FTC Blocks Windows Messenger Pop-up Advertising
The Federal Trade Commission said on Monday they had reached a settlement with San Diego-based D Squared Solutions that bars the company from sending pop-up ads via Windows Messenger Service. D Squared Solutions had used a little-known Windows feature to serve unwanted pop-up ads to Windows Messenger users.
Windows Messenger allows computer network administrators to communicate with others on their networks but is unnecessary for home users. According to reports, the pop-up ads from D Squared were used to sell pop-up blocking software, and they could appear even when a user was online but not browsing the Web.
The FTC alleged that the defendants’ pop-up ads appeared as frequently as every 10 minutes in the forefront of consumers’ screens, caused consumers to lose data and work productivity, caused applications to freeze, and caused some computers to crash. According to the FTC, the defendants placed their pop-up ads near the center of users’ computer screens, blocking the users’ work. The ads appeared as long as the users were connected to the Internet, leading to particular trouble for users with DSL lines or cable modems who were continually connected to the Web.
The agreement bars the defendants from sending Windows Messenger Service pop-up advertisements, selling Windows Messenger Service pop-up blocking software, or selling Windows Messenger Service pop-up sending software. It also prohibits instant message advertising, requires an opt-out mechanism for other kinds of Internet advertising, and bars them from using deceptive return addresses in their e-mail and other advertisements.