Is It Illegal To Advertise In Illegal Adware?

from the probably-not dept

It's no secret that plenty of well known companies have been advertising with the various adware providers. A few months ago, NY AG Eliot Spitzer suggested that he was going to go after sites that partnered or advertised with adware companies that do surreptitious installs. While that move may have successfully made some advertisers start to reconsider where they advertise, it has some legal experts scratching their heads asking what's actually illegal about advertising in adware -- even if the adware is breaking laws. The advertiser is separate from the liability, unless they are actively involved in whatever illegal activity the adware company is involved in. So, it seems likely that this was really more of a scare tactic to get advertisers to think twice about what they were doing. Of course, that might make good business sense for the advertisers as well. Being associated with some of these companies -- whether they're illegal or not -- may harm the advertisers' reputation anyway.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Pete Austin, Aug 2nd, 2005 @ 11:22am

    Sounds like a case for an ASBO

    What are asbos? [UK only]"

    "Anti-social behaviour orders [can be served on people] if they have have behaved "in an anti-social manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress", and that the order is "necessary to protect persons from further anti-social acts. This has allowed asbos to be used to ban activity that is not in itself criminal, such as begging, prostitution and even playing football or being sarcastic...

    Breaching an asbo is a criminal offence, carrying a penalty of up to five years' imprisonment, even when the original offence was not an imprisonable one."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Pete Austin, Aug 2nd, 2005 @ 11:34am

    More about ASBOs and spamming

    The background to my previous comment is the famous case when Sony (yes, that Sony) advertised on illegal flyposters.
    "You may have read the flyposters.

    "You may have read the press reports or seen the television news items concerning the recent application by the London Borough of Camden for Anti-Social Behaviour Orders against executives of Sony Music Entertainment (UK) Limited and BMG UK & Ireland Limited in respect of flyposting."

    It's debateable which is hated more, spamming or flyposting, so the use of an ASBO to stop companies advertising in spam is not completely far-fetched.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Daniel, Aug 2nd, 2005 @ 11:37am

    isn't this this same question as spam

    Seems to me that we're asking the same question we did with spam. Is it the delivery mechanism, the advertiser or the network owner who should be at fault? With spam it's the entire mess of individuals/corporations involved from spammer to isp to advertiser. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Christopher TruLove, Aug 2nd, 2005 @ 11:56am

    No Subject Given

    Confused as to why this would be confusing.

    You hire me to do a job that is illegal, you are liable at least for complicity, and at worst for conspiracy.

    You hire me to do a job not knowing my methods... maybe not... but you don't go to Gator or Spam-R-Us thinking they do legitimate business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    bobby, Aug 2nd, 2005 @ 7:02pm

    advertisers are liable..

    "The advertiser is separate from the liability.."
    No, they are not. It is called 'accessory' as in 'accessory to murder, robery.. & spyware.. Different degree, same concept.. If I help you do something which is illegal, I am (partialy) responsible. So are the advertisers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Jeff D., Aug 3rd, 2005 @ 5:48am

    Business as usual?

    Is it illegal to do business with terrorists? Just because the advertiser is not "actively involved in whatever illegal activity the adware company is involved in," it does not absolve them from liability. These advertisers are typically well aware of the illegal activities performed on their behalf by the 'adware' companies they hire.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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