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Letter Our recent story Pop-up goes the commission reported on allegations that 180solutions' permission-based search assistant application Zango may have been dowloading itself onto users' computers without their knowledge.

We further reported on allegations that 180solutions "violated the policies of two affiliate marketing networks by soliciting commissions from merchant members, and redirecting to itself commissions that should have gone to other affiliates".

Here is 180solutions' reply to the charges, which we reprint here in full:

In your story Pop-up goes the commission, you name N-case as an "Active X program which automatically installed itself onto desktops through online ads..." 180solutions has never caused its software to download automatically or without user consent. 180solutions' software, N-case and Zango included, is opt-in only. The only time 180solutions' software has ever been downloaded unknowingly was when a third party affiliate exploited holes in Internet Explorer and installed the 180Search Assistant without user consent and without 180solutions knowledge or consent. The number of computer affected by this were minimal. This company was in direct breach of contract with 180solutions and is currently being sued by 180solutions for its illegal practices.

Edelman has accused 180solutions of being in violation of Commission Junction and Linkshare policies. 180solutions is actually in total compliance with the regulations of these networks and would be removed from the networks if it was not following policy. 180solutions constantly monitors its practices and changes are ongoing for us to remain in compliance with these networks.

Edelman's research also suggests that 180solutions tags "hidden windows" that are used to re-direct commissions and displays 180solutions-tagged pop-ups that cover competitors sites. There are a couple issues to be addressed here. First, the hidden windows are empty windows, with no tagging whatsoever that the user does not see. These windows work as a check for the 180solutions server, preventing it from displaying a Web site (or ad) when a commission is about to be sent to another affiliate. This is in place to ensure that commissions are not sent to the wrong party.

Secondly, when a 180solutions window is presented to a user, the top of the window is labeled to make sure the user knows where the offer is coming from. For example, if you have Zango installed on your computer and you are searching Google for Las Vegas hotels, and your search returns a listing of hotels, a window might pop up displaying the Web site for Mandalay Bay, (this is only an example) at the top of this window you would see: "Brought to you by the Zango Search Assistant" to inform you of where the offer is coming from.

This window would also not completely cover the Google page, it would simply be shown on top, so you could view both at the same time. 180solutions is not tagging windows to overpower a competitor's site, the labeling is there so the user knows who is responsible for the Web site displayed.

Edelman also reports 180solutions overwriting cookies. 180solutions does not overwrite or manipulate cookies. The occurrence of double pop up windows, which led Edelman to believe that we were overwriting cookies, is a brand protection mechanism for customers who want it. Some affiliate networks do not agree with this method, and 180 makes sure to disable this part of its software on networks where it is not allowed or wanted.

The most important point to be realized is that Edelman does not have access to see where the commissions go or who they are paid to, that information is not public. Edelman has himself admitted that he has not and cannot see where the commissions are paid. His research is missing vital facts. His report overall is based on assumptions that lack information to be complete and correct.

Additionally, 180solutions does not display pop-up ads. 180solutions' software shows users a limited number of targeted Web sites based on searches and Web surfing behaviors.

180solutions absolutely denies and gives no validity to the allegations posed by Edelman's report.

Ashley Wolfe
Barokas Public Relations 180 Solutions

Security for virtualized datacentres

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