Yahoo faces class-action spyware, ad sales suit

A antispyware activist files a lawsuit accusing Yahoo of placing ads with spyware vendors.

An antispyware activist and lawyer has filed a class-action lawsuit against Yahoo, accusing the Web heavyweight of placing advertisements on spyware-vendor and "low-quality" sites.

Ben Edelman, a Massachusetts lawyer and spyware researcher, is one of the lawyers who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Yahoo advertiser Crafts By Veronica, as well as other advertisers. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, accuses Yahoo and its ad sales subsidiary Overture Services of charging higher rates for ads promised "premium" placement, but then placing those ads on spyware-vendor sites and on Web pages with URLs (uniform resource locators) that are misspellings of popular sites.

A Yahoo spokeswoman wasn't immediately available for comment.

The lawsuit seeks to recover the money advertisers paid to Yahoo for premium, "highly targeted," ad placement at Web sites including ones owned by Microsoft Corp. and CNN, Edelman said. Although plaintiffs' lawyers have not released an estimate of damages, it could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, he added.

"It seems like there's a lot of money at issue," Edelman said.

The lawsuit accuses Yahoo of placing ads on sites run by Intermix Media and Direct Revenue, two companies identified in an April lawsuit by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer as distributors of spyware and unwanted pop-up adware. Both companies have disputed Spitzer's charges.

Edelman agrees with Spitzer's assessment of the two companies, he said. "It's software that at least sometimes gets on your computer without your permission," he said. "It tracks where you go online."

In addition, Yahoo places ads on so-called "typosquatting" Web sites, the lawsuit says. Typosquatters register Web sites that have URLs that are common misspellings of popular Web brands, and many typosquatting sites that Yahoo placed premium ads have long lists of advertisements as their only content, the lawsuit says. Ads placed with Yahoo have appeared on, a typosquatter of the popular travel site, the lawsuit says.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?