FTC Gets Tough With Clandestine Pop-Up Ads

06 November 2003

America's Federal Trade Commission will today (Thursday) announce restrictions on unauthorized pop-up ads using Windows Messenger Service - a facility built-into Microsoft's Windows 2000 and XP operating systems.

Such pop-ups are not to be confused with legitimate [if irritating] paid-for ads that appear on many commercial websites.

The latter are not the object of the FTC's wrath: instead its sights are trained on ads inflicted by rogue hucksters who infiltrate Windows-operated PCs during word processing, email or any other program. Such ads are distinguishable by their lack of graphics.

In particular the government agency is targeting San Diego-based D Squared Solutions and its officers, Jeffrey Davis and Anish Dhingra, against whom it has issued a restraining order. The FTC accuses the company of using WMS to send millions of pop-up ads hyping software to block pop-up ads!

Microsoft is changing the default settings on WMS on versions of Windows to be released the first half of next year. This will disable the service which has no merit for non-network users.

Meantime, the FTC recommends that users turn off WMS or install a firewall. More information is available at www.ftc.gov.

Data sourced from: USA Today; additional content by WARC staff