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180 Solutions

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180 Solutions


From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, by MultiMedia

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180solutions, Inc.
Type Private
Founded 1999
Location Bellevue, Washington
Key people Keith Smith, Co-founder, Chief Executive Officer
Daniel Todd, Co-founder, President
Ken Smith, Co-founder, Chief Technology Officer
Doug Hanhart, Co-founder, Chief Information Officer
Industry Computer software
Products Adware
Employees 150 to 250
Website www.180solutions.com

180 Solutions is the company that produces adware applications such as Zango and Seekmo. Formerly, they also produced the 180 Search Assistant (also known as 180sa) and ncase.

Early History (prior to 2002)

When founded in 1999, 180 Solutions was known as epipo. It was one of the first "pay-to-surf" companies, following in the footsteps of All Advantage. This business model paid users a minimal amount to surf the Internet while running an application that showed banner ads. Users could also make money by referring others who would use this application.

After enjoying brief success, the pay-to-surf business model fell into ruin with the bursting of the Internet bubble in 2001, and 180 Solutions adjusted their technologies in several ways:

  • To show popup ads rather than banner ads.
  • To not have any visible GUI.
  • To be bundled with other potentially valuable applications.

2002 - 2005

From 2002 through 2005, 180 Solutions' applications (ncase and 180sa) were distributed via various affiliates. While these affiliates were legally required (by 180 contract and other laws) to obtain the permission of the user prior to install, many did not; this resulted in millions of illegal non-consensual installs. Many other affiliates notified users only via the end user licence agreement EULA; this resulted in more millions of technically legal but still practically non-consensual installs.

180 Solutions' software shows popup ads while the user is surfing the Internet. This software was often, but not always, bundled with other pieces of free software which the user intentionally installed. Since permission to install the 180 Solutions adware was at best hidden in a EULA, most users were unaware of the fact that they were installing adware.

In some cases 180 Solutions' software was not bundled with any other software, but installed as a standalone install. Using this method, an ActiveX prompt simply asked the user to install the software so that they could receive "comparison shopping advertisements".

180 Solutions contends that the value of the bundled software or the comparison shopping advertisements makes up for the inconvenience of the popup ads. The value of this trade-off is contested by critics of the adware business model.

During this time, 180 Solutions' applications were often difficult to uninstall, requiring the user to download an additional 'uninstall' application made by 180 Solutions or to use a spyware or adware removal tool. In 2005, the software uninstall was standardized to use the Windows 'add/remove programs' feature.

In 2005, 180 Solutions implemented a number of initiatives that were intended to show that the company was serious about controlling the distribution of its software to eliminate non-consensual installs:

  • March: Acquired one of their distribution partners, a Canadian company called CDT (dba LoudCash). This gave them direct visibility into and greater control of many of the formerly "third party" distributors.
  • June: Claimed to have renotified its 20 million user customer base and implemented a program that notifies all users within 72 hours of install and re-notifies all users every 90 days thereafter.
  • August: Filed suit against seven individuals alleged to have illegally distributed its software using a botnet.
  • November: Announced an ongoing partnership with the FBI in breaking up a botnet ring in the Netherlands.
  • December: Ended distribution of the 180 Search Assistant and closed LoudCash (a remnant from the CDT acquisition). They claim that this removes the financial incentive for fraudulent installs.

Recent history (2006 and later)

On January 23rd, 2006, a public advocacy group filed two official complaints with the Federal Trade Commission. The Center for Democracy and Technology complaints charge 180 Solutions with engaging in unfair and deceptive business practices, deliberately duping Internet users into downloading intrusive advertising software. [1]

Despite the initiatives of 2005, 180 Solutions recently admitted that it is possible for malicious users to hack their install routines and thus cause fraudulent installs.[2] They claim that the percentage of fraudulent installs has dropped from over 10% to under 1%.[] Critics claim that the business model is untenable because fraud against 180 (which therefore harms unknowning users via nonconsensual installs) can never be completely removed. [3] [4]

External links

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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