US Government Sues its First Spyware Merchant

The US Federal Trade Commission has struck its first blow against spyware manufacturers by shutting down the Seismic Entertainment Productions and

Seismic are accused of producing and secretly installing a spyware application that nagged users to buy an anti-spyware product from the company. In effect, the application was creating a problem for the PC user and then require US$30 (€24) for removal. The complaint was brought forward by a Washington-based consumer group, the Centre for Democracy and Technology.

The individual behind Seismic is Sanford Wallace, who has been accused of illegal practices and pursued by anti-spam authorities for the past few years. He is currently looking for sympathy on his personal website, and has published the following statement:

“We believe the U.S. government is attempting to enforce federal laws that have yet to be enacted. We feel this is a political move and it is being made at the expense of legal business operations. I am not surprised at all that my companies and I, Sanford Wallace, were picked as the ‘poster boy.’ I find the timing and target of this action to be extremely convenient and painfully obvious. We deny any wrongdoings and plan to pursue all legal protections, remedies and freedoms.”

Given the number of people he’s upset in the past, he’ll have a tough job, but there is currently no anti-spyware legislation in the US – the FTC moved against Wallace under legislation relating to deceptive business practices.

FTC’s media advisory on the Wallace case

Sanford Wallace. Background on Wikipedia

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?