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New York sues Intermix over spyware

Spitzer 'The Blitzer' on the warpath against adware

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New York Attorney General Eliot 'The Blitzer' Spitzer has launched a suit against Intermix Media, claiming the firm markets software that covertly installs "spyware" and "adware" on infected machines. The suit against Los Angeles-based Intermix is the largest to date involving programs that redirect web addresses, add toolbars and deliver pop-up ads. New York reckons Intermix is responsible for infecting million of home computers with nuisance programs and worse.

The suit follows a six-month investigation in which the Attorney General's office found that Intermix had installed a wide range of advertising software on home computers without giving consumers proper notice. Intermix owns and operates a wide range of web sites, including mycoolscreen.com, cursorzone.com and flowgo.com, which advertised "free" software available for download, including screensavers, screen cursors and games. Along with these programs comes invasive ad-ware programs which allegedly get installed without the consent of consumers visiting these sites.

Among these malign programs are KeenValue, which serves pop-up ads and IncrediFind, which redirects web addresses to Intermix's proprietary search engine. Other programs placed advertising "toolbars" on users' screens. The Attorney General documented at least ten separate web sites from which Intermix or its agents were downloading spyware, providing either no warning or other misleading disclosures. In this way, Intermix and its agents downloaded more than 3.7 million programs to New Yorkers alone, the Attorney General alleges. In addition, the programs omitted "un-install" applications, and even reinstalled themselves after being deleted.

The Attorney General's suit seeks a permanent injunction against Intermix from secretly installing spyware, an accounting of all revenues made on these products, and payment of penalties. The lawsuit was drafted under New York's which prohibits false advertising and deceptive business practices, and New York's common law prohibitions against trespass.

Negotiations with Intermix prior to the lawsuit failed to reach a settlement to New York has turned to the courts. Intermix is yet to comment on the case. Shares in Intermix fell 55 cents, or 11 per cent, in early trading American Stock Exchange following news of the suit, AP reports. ®

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