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Anti-Spyware Orgs Seek Investigation Of MP3 Site

Two anti-spyware groups asked the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday to shut down FastMP3Search.com.ar for allegedly stuffing users' machines with spyware, stating that they believed the Argentine site was one of the world's worst spyware spreaders.

Two anti-spyware groups asked the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday to shut down FastMP3Search.com.ar Web for stuffing users' machines with spyware, stating that they believed the Argentine site was one of the world's worst spyware spreaders.

StopBadware.org and the Center for Democracy and Technology filed a formal complaint with the FTC. The complaint asked the agency to investigate the site and its owners, stop the site from distributing spyware, and, if appropriate, demand compensation for consumers.

FastMP3Search.com.ar, which operates a search service for digging up free MP3 audio tracks, downloads a plug-in to users' PCs that installs adware, Trojans, and other undisclosed software; turns off the Windows Firewall; and makes it impossible to receive security software updates, claimed John Palfrey, a Harvard Law School professor and StopBadware.org's co-director.

"Without question, the FastMP3Search.com.ar plug-in tops our list of the worst actors," said Palfrey in a statement. "We are filing this complaint because they've combined so many bad things in a single bundle. It's a parade of horribles." The plug-in is also almost impossible to remove from a PC, he added.

"The operators of this site have covered their tracks, and not being able to identify the correct persons responsible, or even the site's true country of origin, makes it more difficult to exert community pressure to get them to change their ways," said Oxford professor Jonathan Zittrain, StopBadware.org's co-director. "By filing a formal complaint with the FTC, we hope to bring additional effort to bear against rogue sites and software."

According to Network Information Center Argentina's WHOIS search, the FastMP3Search.com.ar domain is registered to Direct SA, a Buenos Aires-based company. The domain is hosted by a New York firm, ZoneEdit Inc.

Even StopBadware.org, however, has not been able to root out the real owner. "Thus far [we have] been unable to discover who owns or operates FastMP3Search.com.ar or where such persons or entities are located," the group said in its complaint.

While the FTC has had some success in shuttering U.S.-based spyware and adware distributors, in the past the agency has acknowledged the need to work more closely with its foreign counterparts to properly police the Internet.

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