New York Sues Marketing Company For Spyware Distribution - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

03:29 PM
Connect Directly

New York Sues Marketing Company For Spyware Distribution

Attorney General Spitzer accuses Intermix Media of being a source of spyware and adware that degrades the performance of computers.

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued Internet marketing company Intermix Media Inc. on Thursday for being a source of spyware and adware that degrades the performance of computers.

"Spyware and adware are more than an annoyance," Spitzer said in a statement. "These fraudulent programs foul machines, undermine productivity, and in many cases frustrate consumers' efforts to remove them from their computers. These issues can serve to be a hindrance to the growth of E-commerce."

The lawsuit may hinder Intermix's growth. As of 2:51 p.m. EST, shares of the company (AMEX:MIX) had fallen to $3.75, a loss of almost 22%.

Christopher Lipp, senior VP and general counsel for Intermix, denied that the company promotes spyware. "Intermix does not promote or condone spyware and remains committed to putting this legacy issue behind it as soon as practicable," Lipp said in a statement. "We expect to continue our discussions with the New York Attorney General's Office and are still hopeful of reaching an appropriate and amicable resolution. Many of the practices being challenged were instituted under prior leadership, and Intermix has been voluntarily and proactively improving these applications and related consumer disclosure and functionality for some time."

Intermix ceased distributing the applications in question earlier this month, Lipp said, adding that the company "remains committed to instituting and promoting best practices on the Internet."

The civil suit is the culmination of a six-month investigation. It accuses Intermix of false advertising and deceptive business practices under New York's general business law and trespass under the state's common law. Spitzer said that 3.7 million New Yorkers had downloaded the software in question without proper notice.

The investigation found that Intermix secretly included a number of ad-delivery programs with screensavers, screen cursors, and games available from the company's various Web sites, which include,, and One program, KeenValue, delivered pop-up ads. Another, IncrediFind, redirected Web addresses to a search engine run by Intermix.

Concern about spyware has prompted a flurry of legislative activity on both the state and federal levels. Since Jan. 1, at least 43 bills that mention spyware have been introduced in 27 states. In Washington, House bill H.R. 29 (The Spy Act) and Senate bill S.687 (The Spy Block Act) are under consideration.

But the passage of new laws may not change the advertising practices that Spitzer condemns. Critics of California's SB 1436, signed last year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, note that the legislation mysteriously lost its teeth on its way to the governor's desk. Spyware researcher Benjamin Edelman writes in his online analysis of the law, "Unfortunately, SB 1436's initial comprehensive approach somehow got lost between the February draft and the August revisions."

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
Why 2021 May Turn Out to be a Great Year for Tech Startups
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author,  2/24/2021
How GIS Data Can Help Fix Vaccine Distribution
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  2/17/2021
11 Ways DevOps Is Evolving
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  2/18/2021
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll