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SCOTT JAGOW: Few things on the Internet are more annoying than spyware and adware. For the first time, advertisers are getting punished for sneaking those things on your computer. Janet Babin reports from our Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio.


JANET BABIN: Ever wonder why you're getting pop-up ads for adult dating services, or gambling sites when you're innocently surfing the Web?

It might be the handy work of a company called Direct Revenue.

The New York Attorney General's office says Direct Revenue has secretly placed software on 150 million computers without users' consent.

Those hidden programs then create a stream of pop-up ads from Direct Revenue's clients to your computer.

For the first time, those clients — the advertisers — are also being held responsible for illegally installing the spywear.

The Attorney General's office says Priceline, Travelocity and Cingular Wireless spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Direct Revenue's services.

Now all three companies will pay a total of $100,000 to New York to end the investigation against them.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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