They should have pulled the trigger

They should have pulled the trigger

Summary: A reader says that the CDT should have filed the complaint about 180solutions with the FTC.

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TOPICS: Malware
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Yesterday I blogged about 180solutions' announcement of severing ties with IST (Integrated Search Technologies) and stopping Active X installations that are not from their own servers. I asked who was holding the gun and answered the question. The CDT (Center for Democracy & Technology) had threatened to file a complaint on 180solutions to the FTC.  I had an email from a reader saying the CDT should have "pulled the trigger" by going ahead with the complaint.  Here's the argument:

It's hard to endorse CDT's decision not to pursue 180 for the IST installs.  180 had the benefit of many (millions of?) IST installs for many months (years?).  IST's bad practices are widespread and well-known. Consumers take the time to notify CDT, and CDT goes to all the trouble of investigating and writing a complaint.  But then at the last minute CDT decides to excuse 180 once 180 agrees not to do it any more.

That's not right as a matter of law: 180 is still liable for the harm previously caused. Neither is it right as a matter of practical reality: The FTC has shown plenty of interest in pursuing past violations (see Walt Rines, as well as Advertising.com) (PDF).  So the appropriate CDT action would have been to pursue consumers' complaints to the fullest extent of the law, which in this case means filing a complaint with the FTC.  I actually think CDT came up short when it counted the most by deciding at the last stage not to pursue 180, despite ample basis for filing the complaint.

I agree with the reader's comments.  180solutions has been talking about changes for nearly a year but the talk didn't stop the continued non-consensual installations, often via security exploits, as captured on video and in network logs by a number of spyware researchers as recently as October 5, just one week ago.  The CDT's decision not to file the complaint serves no justice to the thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of consumers whose computers were violated by 180solutions.  

A few days ago I stumbled upon an article about Fortune Small Business magazine's list of "Best Bosses".  The last name on the list is Keith Smith, CEO of 180solutions.  It says

Keith Smith (180solutions, Bellevue, Washington) At this online marketing firm, employees play dodgeball and volleyball.

Apparently all the dodgeball practice has served them well.  180solutions did, indeed, dodge the bullet about to be fired by the CDT.

I'd be most interested in readers' opinions.  Should the CDT have filed the complaint about 180solutions' business practices to the FTC?  Comments are open.  Paperghost at VitalSecurity has blogged his thoughts and the folks at Slashdot,  as usual, have lots to say.

Topic: Malware

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  • A guns a funny thing...

    Should they have? Depends on what they felt their chances or the FTC's chances were without offering a "formal" warning to 180Solutions.

    What do I mean? Despite the numerous complaints by consumers and despite all of the video supporting the problems people have had with 180Solutions, how would a court view the case?

    That is my question. I'm not a legal expert by any means, but a court of law is supposed to be a "Last Resort". The CDT's action would have given them the ability to state "All avenues were tried prior to court".

    I have to assume that the reason a complaint wasn't filed with the FTC is that the CDT felt there was still an "out" present for 180Solutions and that filing a complaint and pursing legel action may not have had the desired affect (possibly setting a bad precident via a loophole?).

    I'd be interested in someone who has a legel background and a better understanding of the court system to comment.

    My hope...is that the CDT was being cautious and avoiding a possible out for 180 and not just trying to avoid court time.
    aquias2000@...
    • Interesting observations

      "The CDT's action would have given them the ability to state 'All avenues were tried prior to court'."

      ...and I'm sure that that is exactly what these scumbags are counting on. Push the envelope and stall up to the very last second, right before the finger squeezes the trigger -- and then get off scot-free.
      GuillermoR