I've blogged this at Spyware Warrior and included links to my previous posts there and other sites with information about Walt Rines and Odysseus Marketing, the target of the FTC's complaint today. Walt Rines has a long history of questionable business and marketing practices and it seems his past has caught up with him now.
The FTC announced their complaint against Odysseus Marketing and its principle Walt Rines. FTC Seeks to Halt Illegal Spyware Operation
Lure of Anonymous File Sharing Software Exposed Consumers’ Computers to Spyware
The Federal Trade Commission has asked a U.S. District Court judge to halt an operation that secretly installed spyware and adware that could not be uninstalled by the consumers whose computers it infected. The defendants used the lure of free software they claimed would make peer-to-peer file sharing anonymous. The agency alleges the stealthy downloads violate federal law and asked the court to order a permanent halt to them.
According to the complaint filed by the FTC, Odysseus Marketing and its principal, Walter Rines, advertised software they claimed would allow consumers to engage in peer-to-peer file sharing anonymously. With claims like “DOWNLOAD MUSIC WITHOUT FEAR,” and “DON’T LET THE RECORD COMPANIES WIN,” the defendants encouraged consumers to download their free software. The agency charges that the claims are bogus. First, the software does not make file-sharing anonymous. Second, the cost to consumers is considerable because the “free” software is bundled with spyware called Clientman that secretly downloads dozens of other software programs, degrading consumers’ computer performance and memory. Among other things, this accumulated software replaces or reformats search engine results. For example, consumers who downloaded the spyware may try to conduct a Google or Yahoo! search. Their screens will reveal a page that appears to be the Google or Yahoo! search engine result, but the page is a copy-cat site, and the order of the search results is rigged to place the defendants’ clients first. The bundled software programs also generate pop-up ads and capture and transmit information from the consumers’ computers to servers controlled by the defendants.
The actual compliant and other court documents can be found at the FTC's site here.