A number of major U.S. media companies, including the parent companies of The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have filed a lawsuit against Gator Corporation, a leading provider of adware, in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria. Adware is software that triggers pop-up ads when web surfers visit a particular website. The media companies claim that Gator is selling ads on their Websites without authorization and profiting from the media companies' investment in their own web sites. In particular, the publishers claim that "Gator Corp. is essentially a parasite that free rides on the hard work and investment" of the publishers. Adware has also been criticized for occasionally including software code that monitors a user's activity on the Internet and transmits that information in the background to someone else, without the user's authorization or knowledge. This practice is called "spyware" and has resulted in a number of complaints from online security and privacy advocates, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center. On a related note, as part of a recent investigation, U.S. Secret Service agents notified four U.S. universities including the Arizona State University (ASU) that some of their computers may have been compromised. Students' online activities may have been monitored by "spyware" placed on the universities' computers by online criminals to capture passwords and credit card numbers. For additional information on the Gator matter, visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A52132-2002Jun26.html. http://news.findlaw.com/ap/ht/1700/6-28-2002/20020628154502_060.html. For additional information on the U.S. Secret Service investigation, visit: http://news.com.com/2100-1001-938126.html. The Electronic Privacy Information Center: http://epic.org.


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