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The Attorney General of New York, Eliot Spitzer, today announced that it had sued Direct Revenue, perhaps the most notorious and hated adware/spyware distributor of them all.

Press release:

Affirmation of Justin Brookman:


The Brookman Affirmation (76 pages) is a hair-raising read in which OAG investigators document the reprehensible software installation and pop-up advertising practices of Direct Revenue. Still more damning, though, is the avalanche of internal email that OAG investigators quote, revealing that DR execs were not only well aware of the fact that most users did not meaningfully consent to the installation of their software and had no clue as to how to remove the software from their systems, but that they knew full well that DR’s distributors and sub-distributors were engaged in illegal installation practices and yet took no actions to stop those practices or police the distributors (at least not until OAG investigators were on the case).

Also of interest is the fact that DR execs obsessively monitored anti-spyware web sites, organizations, and companies for any sign of criticism and were not shy about issuing legal threats and, in one case, hiring a private investigator to bully critics into silence. The Brookman Affirmation acidly remarks:

Yet the individual respondents became blase even about the shame of operating one
of the most reviled companies in America. Forwarding a critical Information Week
article, one of the company’s venture capital partners cavalierly noted, “At
least we’re not Ebola.”

To those of us who have followed the outrageous practices of this company over the years, there is little here that is completely new. What is remarkable, though, is that we now have an account of these practices all under one cover and thoroughly documented using internal company sources.

Highly recommended reading.

Eric L. Howes
Director of Malware Research
Sunbelt Software