This is the kind of news I like to see.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Advertising.com Inc., a unit of Time Warner Inc. (TWX
)'s America Online, agreed to settle federal charges that the company offered free security software without adequately disclosing that it also came with adware.
Under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Advertising.com will be required to "clearly and prominently" disclose that consumers who install the program, SpyBlast, will receive pop-up ads based on their Internet browsing habits.
The settlement also requires that Advertising.com comply with standard record-keeping and other provisions to allow the FTC
to monitor compliance with the order. The proposed consent order doesn't cover AOL, which bought Advertising.com for $435 million in 2004.
complaint charged that when consumers installed SpyBlast - a software intended to protect against hackers - they were not required to read the agreement alerting users about receiving potential marketing messages.
Adware and spyware have become major nuisances for consumers. Both types of programs typically are installed with little or no disclosure. While adware is less dangerous than spyware, consumers complain adware programs bombard them with pop-up ads, slow their computers and are hard to remove.
Andrew Weinstein, a spokesman for AOL, said Advertising.com distributed the software as an experiment in 2003. The experiment ended the same year, before AOL acquired the company. "We support the FTC
's efforts to fight spyware and we will continue to protect our member from those problems," Weinstein said.