Consumer Groups Want Action Against Spyware Company

A cross-border alliance of consumer advocacy groups (Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic) has formal complaints being filed with the Federal Trade Commission and the Canadian Competition Bureau urging the agencies to consider filing civil lawsuits against Montreal-based software distributor Integrated Search Technologies (IST), a company that the consumer groups claim utilizes aggressive and unethical installation practices.

They claim that IST and its affiliates “used deceptive techniques to dupe Internet users into downloading software they did not ask to receive in exchange for little or no benefit” and that the toolbars provided by IST either hijack a user’s browser and/or Internet search functionality, and/or bombard the user with a barrage of pop-up ads for porn sites.

SPAMers and Spyware vendors don’t respect national borders. We need to start looking for cross-border solutions to these problems. It is nice to see a cross border approach being implemented to address this problem. The filing marks the first time that the Competition Bureau has been asked to investigate a spyware company, and the first time that the FTC has been asked to investigate the practices of a Canadian spyware vendor.

The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) is operated by the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section. Clinic counsel work with upper year law students on projects and cases involving the intersection of law, technology and the public interest.