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BizReport : Advertising : January 30, 2007

Cingular, Priceline, Travelocity settle adware suit

Three big brands have settled a suit over the use of adware., and have agreed to pay fines imposed by New York State's attorney general.

by Kristina Knight

None of the companies admitted guilt in the case. The lawsuit alleged that the three companies hired an adware firm that engaged in deceptive practices.

According to the attorney general office, all three companies worked with DirectRevenue, which actually installed the adware. In addition to delivering ads, the adware monitored users' online activity and collected personal information, when users filled out online forms. When the state sued DirectRevenue last year, they found Cingular, Priceline and Travelocity along with many smaller online companies had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to have ads delivered by adware. They also found the adware very hard to uninstall.

This is the first time lawmakes have held companies responsible for ads delivered by adware, according to the attorney general's office. Cingluar and Priceline will each pay $35,000 in fines while Travelocity will pay $30,000.

In addition to the fines, the companies must also ensure that future ads are prominently branded, that users consent to adware before it is installed and that adware is easily uninstalled. They must also ensure that companies working on their behalf follow these regulations., JPMorganChase and United Airlines were also named as using DirectRevenue services but were not charged in the case.

Tags: adware, online advertising, online marketing

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