by Mike Masnick

Sneakily Installed Adware To Tell People It's Installed

from the this-is-reform? dept

Maybe it's a step forward, but something about this still doesn't seem right. 180solutions is a well known (and, in many corners, despised) adware vendor. However, they've been trying to "clean up their act." They're one of the adware vendors who were able to raise lots of venture capital money (the type that many VCs are now regretting having funded or even distancing themselves from). The company has tried various tactics to improve its PR, though changing the business model apparently isn't at the top of the list as it's still accused of doing surreptitious installs. The company always blames "rogue" affiliates, but recently bought one of the biggest offenders, effectively rewarding the affiliate for all the trouble it caused. However, it appears the company is trying once again to change how it's perceived. Just as competing adware firm Intermix was settling charges filed against it for sneaky installs, the company hired a former Microsoft PR person and is now embarking on a campaign to sort of clean up its act by bugging everyone who has their software installed with popups telling them that 180solutions' software is installed, explaining what it does, and offering "tips" on how to remove it. First of all, doesn't this seem sort of like a crook who has been repeatedly robbing you popping up one day to explain his crime and then offering "tips" on how to stop him? Apparently, though, if you've already been installed by sneaky methods and want to seem at least somewhat legit, this is one way to do so. Of course, offering "tips" on how to remove the software seems a bit weak as well. How about a button that says "remove all traces of this software, now!"? The campaign includes its own PR doublespeak as well. Apparently this is an attempt to "renotify customers" to ensure "proper consent and disclosure." The problem, of course, is that most of these "customers" were never notified in the first place -- otherwise they wouldn't need to give the "proper consent." As for disclosure, as we pointed out, that seems to be coming a bit late in the game.

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