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AdultFriendFinder rapped for X-rated pop-ups

Foisted explicit material on wide-eyed innocents

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AdultFriendFinder.com, "The World's Largest Sex & Swingers Personal Community", has agreed to stop flashing X-rated pop-ups to unwitting surfers after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) brought charges that the practice violated federal law.

According to an FTC statement, the website and its affiliates use such pop-ups to attract would-be customers. The offending ads were "displayed to consumers who were searching online using terms such as 'flowers', 'travel', and 'vacations'," thereby "exposing consumers, including children, to sexually explicit images".

The FTC adds: "In some cases, the defendant's sexually explicit ads were distributed using spyware and adware."

The commission charged that "the practice of displaying graphic pop-up ads without consumer consent was unfair, and violated the FTC Act".

The settlement requires the defendant, California-based Various, Inc. trading as AdultFriendFinder, AdultFriendFinder.com, and Cams.com, to stop "displaying sexually explicit ads to consumers unless the consumers are actively seeking out sexually explicit content or unless the consumers have consented to viewing sexually explicit content".

The statement continues: "It requires the defendant to take steps to ensure that its affiliates comply with the restriction, and end its relationship with any affiliates who do not comply. It also requires the defendant to establish an Internet-based mechanism for consumers to submit complaints. Finally, the settlement contains bookkeeping and record- keeping requirements to allow the Commission to monitor compliance."

The settlement does not, the FTC stresses, "constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation", and "requires approval by the court and has the force of law when signed by the judge".

Accordingly, the commission voted 5-0 "to authorise staff to file the complaint" yesterday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division. ®

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