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Court puts halt to alleged spyware distributor

At the request of the FTC, a U.S. district court has shut down an operation run by ERG Ventures.

A U.S. District Court in Nevada has shut down an alleged spyware operation run by ERG Ventures after a complaint was filed by the Federal Trade Commission, the agency said Monday. According to the FTC filing, ERG Ventures and affiliate Timothy Taylor were responsible for deceptively distributing the Media Motor Trojan horse, masking it with promises of free screensavers and video content. The FTC said that once installed, Media Motor set off an array of disruptive practices that ranged from changing consumers' home pages and browser settings to generating pop-ups, including pornographic ones, and disabling antispyware and antivirus programs.

Deceptive practices like covert spyware installation are violations of the FTC Act. In the case of ERG Ventures, the company failed to notify consumers that there was malicious software piggybacking on what appeared to be harmless, free downloads, the agency said. The FTC has requested that the Nevada court permanently stop all illegal activity on the part of ERG Ventures and order the company to give up any revenue it may have generated from related operations.