FTC Cracks Down on Alleged Spyware Operation in NH

The Federal Trade Commission said yesterday that it asked a U.S. District Court judge to stop an operation it claims secretly installed spyware and adware onto consumers' computers that could not be uninstalled.

The FTC accused Walter Rines of Stratham, NH, and his company, Odysseus Marketing, of luring computer users with the promise of free software that would make peer-to-peer file sharing anonymous. The claim was bogus, according to the FTC, and the software was bundled with spyware. The FTC said the downloads violate federal law, and it asked the court to order a permanent halt to them.

Rines told The Associated Press that he did nothing wrong and that users were aware of what they were downloading.

Spyware describes a range of software that can be installed through e-mails or Web pages, or can be bundled with software that consumers download onto their computers, rendering them helpless to a flood of pop-up ads, computer crashes and other annoyances.

The FTC filed its first federal anti-spyware case last fall against Sanford Wallace, also of New Hampshire. Known as the “Spam King,” that lawsuit accused him of using spyware to infect computers and then selling $30 remedies that didn't work, according to the FTC.

Wallace and Rines were partners at one time, the FTC said.

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