FTC targets spyware operation with Atlanta link 

After months of pressure from lawmakers, the Federal Trade Commission has finally taken the fight against spyware to the courts. In mid-October, the agency asked a federal judge to shut down what it calls a "spyware operation that hijacks computers, secretly changes their settings, barrages them with pop-up ads, and installs adware and other software programs that spy on consumers' Web surfing."

Sanford Wallace, who gained notoriety in the 1990s by sending out millions of spam e-mails, is accused by the FTC of using his New Hampshire company to install spyware on the computers of hundreds of users, and then offering to sell them the solution. That "solution," as it turns out, is software sold by an Atlanta man, Rob Martinson, who was the subject of a recent cover story in CL. (Go to www.atlanta.creativeloafing. com/2004-08-12/cover.html.) For every "anti-spyware" package that Martinson sold that way, he'd pay Wallace a commission. The sales technique -- and Martinson's product itself -- has generated dozens of complaints to the FTC and the local Better Business Bureau.

The FTC is asking a federal judge to shut down Wallace's company.

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