Commentary

Zango On Hot Seat Again

Adware company Zango, long under fire by consumer advocates and malware researchers, is once again facing criticism relating to installations.

This time, malware researcher Christopher Boyd reports that Web users were tricked into downloading Zango by an ad that promised them a free online Batman game. In fact, those who clicked on the ad and then downloaded Zango's software received only a demo version of an old game that's available without adware elsewhere on the Web.

Zango blames the publisher, which it says created the ad. The company also told MediaPost it's terminated the publisher from its program.

Still, this incident is hardly the first time that a Zango contractor has done something unsavory. Zango has a long history of affiliating itself with companies that have used suspect methods to install adware on people's computers.

Digital rights groups including the Center for Democracy & Technology long criticized Zango for allegedly turning a blind eye to the actions of the companies it did business with. Even the FTC got involved, eventually extracting a $3 million settlement from Zango.

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Nevertheless, it still appears that some companies are able to trick users into downloading Zango. Given Zango's track record, it's easy to understand why security vendors offer programs that enable users to easily remove the company's adware. And it's increasingly difficult to understand why Zango expects to use the courts to shut down anti-spyware companies.

Zango currently is appealing the dismissal of its lawsuit against the security company Kaspersky Lab. Zango alleged that Kasperky's removal program interfered with Zango's relationships with its customers. A federal district court judge tossed the case, but Zango appealed to the 9th Circuit, which is still mulling the matter

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