February 23, 2005 5:19 PM PST

Adware maker joins federal privacy board

The Department of Homeland Security has named Claria, an adware maker that online publishers once dubbed a "parasite," to a federal privacy advisory board.

An executive from Claria, formerly called Gator, will be one of 20 members of the committee, the department said Wednesday.

"This committee will provide the department with important recommendations on how to further the department's mission while protecting the privacy of personally identifiable information of citizens and visitors of the United States," Nuala O'Connor Kelly, the department's chief privacy officer, said in a statement.

Claria bundles its pop-up advertising software with ad-supported networks such as Kazaa. Recently, the privately held company has been trying to seek credibility by following stricter privacy guidelines and offering behavioral profiling services to its partners.

In an e-mail message to CNET News.com, Kelly defended the inclusion of a Claria representative on the committee. "I am proud of, supportive of and grateful for those individuals in the public and private sector who are willing to take on the hard tasks, fight the good fight, and who surprise us with creative, fresh and unconventional thinking, and who make change where change is needed through their hard work and personal dedication," Kelly said.

In the past, Claria's pop-up ad software has riled some users who claimed it was annoying, installed without permission, and not easy to delete. Publishers also were irked about pop-up ads for a rival's product appearing next to their own Web sites. Catalog retailer L.L. Bean sued Gator for alleged trademark infringement.

Claria's representative on the Homeland Security privacy board is company Vice President D. Reed Freeman, a former Federal Trade Commission staff attorney. Other members include executives from Intel, Computer Associates International, IBM, Oracle and the Cato Institute.

Kelly said Freeman will "bring his courage and conviction to the board, and will contribute productively--and constructively--to the board's and the public's dialogue on privacy and homeland security."

The committee is tasked with providing "external expert advice to the secretary and the chief privacy officer on programmatic, policy, operational and technological issues that affect privacy, data integrity and data interoperability."

In February 2003, Gator settled a high-profile case brought by The Washington Post, The New York Times, Dow Jones and other media companies. Terms of that deal were quiet, but Claria appears to have stopped delivering pop-ups to those publishers' sites.

Claria did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CNET News.com's Stefanie Olsen contributed to this report.

14 comments

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Gator + HomeSec...
Does anyone else see the potential privacy problems with the Department of Homeland Security naming the creator of a software application which is known to track Internet activitys and is installed on probally over 60% of the world's desktop computers to a federal posting?

To all you tech guys: Think about it... What better way to track Internet activitys than with an actual client application which is allready in place on a vast majority of people's computers.

Not trying to be paranoid, and I know very well that if they wanted to, they could track anywhere we go anyway. But wouldn't this make it all the easier?

Just a thought :)
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Once dubbed?
Still dubbed.
Posted by katamari (310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Still dubbed
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/citroen_synergie_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/citroen_synergie_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Ubber geek (325 comments )
Link Flag
Keeping a "legal trojan" legal ...
Gator / Claria's ability to secretly upload/execute whatever piece of software they want transparently (for the millions of unsuspecting users/victims) is the main reason why they still exist and won't be stopped anytime soon.
Nearly all of Gator/Claria users/victims were tricked into installing it. Over 90% are unaware of it's presence in their machine, and not a single person would voluntarilly keep it once they learn about it's ability to download/execute arbitrary pieces of software in their machines without even warning them.

Being commercial does not make it less of a Trojan !
Posted by My-Self (242 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is the "Fox guarding the henhouse"...
So I guess now the Department of Homeland Insecurity can now use "drive by" installs of their messaging instead of email. Now when they want to raise the Alert level to orange they can just send a pop-up ad to everyones computer.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Now what they need is...
Ok, if you are going to allow those creeps in, then they should also have a representative from each of the terrorist organizations on board to. The fox guarding the hen house indeed.

Robert
Posted by (336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Adware exec back in the office
Ok people, listen up - the next series of changes being made are X, Y and Z. So, for adware to function properly we'll need to implement the following in our next release!
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sick joke
Gator and its ill-begotten progeny are the Herpes of the internet. No amount of bleach is ever going to cleanse the name of this company or its vile executives. Unless the goal of the Dept. of Homeland Security is to set a cyber-creep to catch other cyber-creeps, this is a sick, sick joke. How about the guy who wrote that MonkeyB Virus? I'm sure he's got something to add to Homeland Security expertise. I'd sure like to have ten minutes in a soundproof room to discuss it with him.
Posted by jdonley (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It wouldn't surprise me if...
It wouldn't surprise me if the office of Homeland Security didn't let Gator in so that they could help create better spyware for the government so that they can use it to see what web sites we are all looking at. You know to see who is looking at bomb making sites. I hate Bush sites, how-to fly an airplane in to a buiding in 3 easy steps sites, islamic sites, etc.

This is really the only reason I can think of that would be a reason they would allow them in. It is a pretty nifty idea. They may not be able to use the information in a court of law, but they can use it to get an idea of who to watch more closely.

Robert
Posted by (336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
nifty?
Spying on your citizens is a nifty idea?
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
Sounds Familiar
This sounds like a case of "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."
Posted by nzamparello (60 comments )
Reply Link Flag
BOO!! HISS!!! GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION!!
BOO!! HISS!!! GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION!!
Posted by derekmoore333 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Offending message
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/citroen_c2_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/citroen_c2_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Ubber geek (325 comments )
Link Flag
Claria on Federal Privacy Council - now that is a kick in the soft parts!
When will the US citizens remember that the govt is supposed to be made up of people who speak for US and not for big business? There were over 20 companies suing Claria @ one time all for being trademark violating, adware installing internet leeches. Nothing has changed aside from them settling 99% of their lawsuits and quietly changing their name.

They continue to argue they do not promote active x installations of their product - however I know people infected daily. HEY MR. PRESIDENT, INSTEAD OF WORRYING ABOUT THE CRAP IN THE REST OF THE WORLD - GET THE SPYWARE PEOPLE OFF THE PRIVACY COUNCIL. ARE YOU NUTZ!
Posted by lonny paul (52 comments )
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