WASHINGTON DC: The US Federal Trade Commission has reached a $1.5 million (€1.1m; £674k) settlement with a software company which it claims illegally downloaded ad software on to consumers' computers.

The FTC charges that New York-headquartered Direct Revenue offered consumers free content, such as screensavers and games, and included its adware without adequate notice. The software then served up targeted pop-up ads and was difficult to remove.

The company said it was pleased with the settlement and that it had cooperated with the FTC in its investigation.

Some privacy advocates and one of the five FTC commissioners complained the fine was insufficient.

Ari Schwartz, deputy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology claimed Direct Revenue made tens of millions of dollars in sales during 2004 and 2005. As a result, he said, the $1.5m fine "is not a lot of money in this case".

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff