Vonage Ads Delivered Via A Dozen Spyware Makers: Report

Anti-spyware researcher Ben Edelman, in his most recent newsletter, charges that Vonage advertising appears in ads from at least a dozen sources he identifies as spyware makers. He also says there's plenty Vonage could do to stop the practice.
Vonage engages in "widespread and substantial spyware-delivered advertising" with notorious spyware vendors, and its ads are sometimes displayed at sexually explicit sites, says well-known anti-spyware researcher Ben Edelman

Edelman, in his most recent newsletter, charges that Vonage advertising appears in ads from at least a dozen software makers that he identifies as spyware makers, including 180solutions, Intermix, Direct Revenue, and eXact Advertising, among others.

Edelman cites one instance in which Vonage paid Direct Revenue $31,570 in a single month in 2005. He adds that the New York Attorney General, in its litigation against Intermix, specifically documented Vonage's ads appearing in Intermix KeenValue pop-ups.

In his newsletter, Edelman shows numerous instances of Vonage ads being displayed by what he called spyware makers. For example, he claims that Targetsaver displays popup ads for Vonage "in unseemly locations, such as when users browse sexually-explicit sites."

In addition, Edelman says that in some instances, Vonage pop-up ads, via spyware, appear when people visit telecom sites.

Edelman says that he does not believe that Vonage specifically intends to have its ads shown via spyware. But he adds, "By failing to take appropriate precautions and failing to diligently supervising its ads, Vonage makes payments to spyware vendors -- funding spyware that is known to harm users' PCs."

Edelman says that Vonage CEO Jeffrey Citron was asked by the Associated Press last year about having its ads delivered via spyware, and Citron responded, "We do everything we can to make sure our partners adhere to our standards."

Edelman says in his newsletter, " I disagree. There's plenty more Vonage could do. For example, Vonage could refuse to work with partners like Vendare, that have known ties to spyware vendors and that even make and distribute their own spyware." He goes on to cite several other ways in which Vonage could ensure that its ads were not delivered via spyware.

Vonage officials were unavailable for comment.

Edelman is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Economics at Harvard University, was a Student Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and has testified widely about spyware and technology.

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