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Integrated Search Technologies — makers of the notorious IST Toolbar, is the target of a complaint by the CDT and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic.

The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) today asked the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Canadian Competition Bureau to investigate the business practices of Montreal-based software distributor Integrated Search Technologies and several of its business partners located in the United States and elsewhere.

In a complaints filed with the FTC and the Competition Bureau, CDT and CIPPIC allege that Integrated Search Technologies (IST) and its affiliates have engaged in a widespread campaign of installing unwanted software on users computers, and have done so using unfair and deceptive practices prohibited by federal law.

CDT’s complaint focuses on how IST and several of its affiliates —, ContextPlus, Meridian Business Ventures, Surf Accuracy and Internet Optimizer — rely used deceptive techniques to dupe Internet users into downloading software they did not ask to receive in exchange for little or no benefit. CIPPIC’s complaint documents how a specific ‘bundle’ of questionable software provided by IST was installed with neither notice nor consent. The unwanted programs, which can dramatically slow a computer’s performance, are installed in such a way that many users do not even know they are there. Making matters worse, the companies behind the programs in many cases deliberately design them to be difficult to uninstall.

Press release here. Complaint here.

Alex Eckelberry