Government launches campaign against some 'pop-up' Internet ads

Thursday, November 6th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Regulators disclosed a new legal campaign Thursday against an especially annoying practice for delivering ``pop-up'' advertisements to Internet users, suing a California company for selling software to block the same kinds of ads the company was sending.

The director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection, Howard Beales, accused the company of ``high-tech extortion,'' saying its practices took Internet advertising ``beyond annoyance to a new level.''

The FTC said it obtained a temporary restraining order against D-Squared Solutions LLC of San Diego from a federal court in Baltimore. The FTC's legal papers accuse D-Squared of unlawfully exploiting the ``Messenger'' feature of Microsoft Corp.'s popular Windows software.

Windows Messenger _ which is unrelated to Microsoft's instant-messaging software that uses the same name _ commonly allows network administrators to display message windows on a user's computer screen, such as a warning that a company's Internet connection might be having problems.

But Internet marketers have seized upon the technology to display intrusive advertising messages with offers for software and pornography, unless computer users manually turn off the technology or use protective firewall software to block out unwanted messages.