Anti-spam spamvertisers agree to quit

Cynical pop-up campaign squashed

A Californian company last week promised to stop promoting its ad-blocking software using Internet pop-up ads. San Diego-based D Squared Solutions reportedly used the Messenger function built into Windows to spamvertise its "anti-spam" services. Its cynical marketing tactics caught the attention of regulators the Federal Trade Commission, which instigated a civil case against the two person start-up last year.

Rather than face further expensive litigation, D Squared last week pledged to stop sending pop-up ads. The firm also agreed to stop marketing ad-blocking software and to restrict itself to permission-based marketing. The FTC also has the right to monitor D Squared's business for the next five years.

Under the terms of the settlement, neither Anish Dhingra nor Jeffrey Davis (D Squared's two college student founders) was obliged to admit any wrongdoing. Neither face any penalties as a result of the case, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Dhingra and Davis are planning to resume their studies at the University of California San Diego.

D Squared's lawyers denied the dynamic duo's ads were unethical, describing them as "annoyances you have to deal with in a free society" and claiming the advertisements were rate capped. Complaints reported to the FTC tell a different story of ads sent as frequently as every 10 minutes prompting users to visit a site where relief can be purchased for $25 to $30.

The case against D Squared is one of the first to consider the legality of pop-up ads. It's unlikely to be the last. ®

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