Spitzer Takes On Spyware

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New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is now turning the crosshairs on suspected spyware offenders. His office issued this press release this morning:

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today sued one of the nation's leading Internet marketing companies, alleging that the firm was the source of spyware and adware that have been secretly installed on millions of home computers.

The suit against Los Angeles-based Intermix Media is the most sweeping case to date involving programs that redirect Web addresses, add toolbars and deliver pop-up ads.

"Spyware and adware are more than an annoyance," Spitzer said. "These fraudulent programs foul machines, undermine productivity and in many cases frustrate consumers' efforts to remove them from their computers. These issues can serve to be a hindrance to the growth of e-commerce."

"Frustrate" may be putting it mildly. Microsoft's Susan Bradley describes how she recently tried to clean up a system operated by her hairdresser. In the end, she said:

Oh, and I'm doing something else too...I'm making the [hairdresser's] daughter and son's account into limited-user mode and not giving them administrator rights. You see, that's how this computer got into this mess. Even with Norton up to date...even though Microsoft antispyware was on the machine [which, in fairness, this was added later in a last-ditch effort to clean the box--unfortunately, it was unsuccessful]. And even while I was getting the data off, the spyware cleaner was attempting to block stuff, but it just couldn't do it.

Perhaps if software doesn't work, the long arm of the law finally will.

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