Software Company to End Pop-Up Ad Deluge

Monday, August 2nd 2004, 9:28 am
By: News On 6

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) _ A San Diego company has agreed to stop bombarding computer users with Internet pop-up ads to advertise its ad-blocking software, avoiding a court battle with the Federal Trade Commission.

D Squared Solutions LLC, which was created by two college students, reached a settlement Wednesday with the FTC, which had filed a civil suit against the company last year.

D Squared agreed not to send pop-up ads using the Messenger function enabled on many Windows operating systems; such ads do not require an open Web browser to display. The company also won't sell ad-blocking software any longer, and it is barred from sending other ads unless users can choose not to receive them.

The company's founders, Anish Dhingra and Jeffrey Davis, do not admit wrongdoing and do not face any penalties.

The FTC's legal case against D Squared, one of the first to address pop-up ads that have become a common Internet marketing technique, was seen as an attempt to limit an often-intrusive form of advertising that exploits technology built into Microsoft Corp.'s Windows software.

The government alleged that using Messenger, D Squared was able to send pop up ads every ten seconds in the form of small dialogue boxes that usually appeared in the middle of the computer screen. This function was initially designed for network operators to send systemwide messages to employees.

The FTC said the practice was a hassle to consumers and misled them into thinking there was nothing they could do to stop the ads.

Attorneys for Dhingra and Davis claimed the pair were not trying to extort consumers with their ads and only intended to send one a day to computer users. Lawyer Anthony J. Dain has said the ads are ``annoyances you have to deal with in a free society.''