Policing Distributors

By Paul F. Roberts  |  Posted 2006-02-21 Print this article Print

A promised version of the license agreement will make it clear that 180 installs pop-up advertising software and changes to the S3 application will enable those who view the agreement to print it out, Sundwall said. But 180s problems go deeper than license agreements, Edelman said.
The company maintains a long list of distributors, many of them outside of the United States.
In the past, many of those partners have acted unethically, but 180 has not abandoned the affiliate model for distributing its software, or shown a willingness to perform "due diligence" before permitting companies to distribute 180s wares, Edelman said. "180s problem is that they do business with thousands of different distributors. They could say were only going to do business with companies that are real companies, or only with companies in the United States, or where weve actually met the people personally … But theyre not looking carefully at who these people are," he said. Among other things, 180 should look closely at distributors operating out of the former Soviet Union, Africa and other countries with little legal infrastructure for addressing cyber-crime, he said. Sundwall disputes that argument. He said 180 has culled thousands of distributors from its books, and the company currently uses only around 1,000 partner companies to distribute its wares, down from 7,000 six months ago. 180 will continue to use non-U.S. distributors because they often offer attractive content that draws Internet users, even though 180 values U.S.-based installs over those in Europe or other countries, he said. However, he said, it is more difficult to vet distributors who are not in the United States. There is evidence that consumer rights advocates are running out of patience with the companys efforts to reform. In January, the Center for Democracy & Technology filed a compliant with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission about 180s practices, which CDT called "illegal and deceptive." Edelman said 180 will have to push the envelope to get people to install its software, because few Internet users would willingly install it. "If this is such a service, why pay people to put it on [the users] computer?" he asked. "The reality is these are companies with millions of dollars of assets. This is big money," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.


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