The Spam Diaries

News and musings about the fight against spam.
 by Edward Falk

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Walter Rines also tagged by FTC

In all the excitement about Sanford Wallace nominally being fined by the FTC, I forgot to mention that his sometime partner Walt "Pickle Jar" Rines also made the news. And for nearly the same reasons.

The Register reports that the FTC has obtained a court injunction against Rines and his company Odysseus Marketing over their scumware installations.

Consumers were tricked into downloading software called "Kazanon" which would allow them to use peer-to-peer file sharing software anonymously, but in fact, the software actually hijacked search engine results, putting Rines' clients sites first. The software also captured consumers' personal information including names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, internet browsing and shopping history.

The installed trojan, "clientman" then installs other third-party software from other sites, presumably belonging to Rines' clients.

The actual counts against Rines:
  1. The "Kazanon" program doesn't work; it doesn't hide your identity or IP address at all.
  2. Failure to adequately disclose the presense and nature of bundled software
  3. Consumers cannot remove software. When installed, clientman uses stealth as well as patching parts of the actual OS to make it effectively impossible to remove. Rines later added an uninstall program to his web site, but the uninstall program does not un-patch the files that were modified when clientman was installed, nor does it remove the third-party software.
The actual FTC documents can be found at this site. Most are in pdf format.

Like the Sanford Wallace case, this court order seems to have no teeth. There's no kind of punishment involved, and Rines isn't even losing the profits he made from these computer crimes. Here's to hoping that there's more to come in this case.


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