Various Inc. Settles FTC Charges

WASHINGTON - Various Inc., which operates online sex and swinger communities Adult FriendFinder and Cams, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that its online pop-up ads violated federal law.


The settlement bars Various from exhibiting sexually explicit ads to surfers who are not seeking adult material.


According to the FTC, Adult FriendFinder and its affiliates used pop-up ads to drive traffic to their websites. Several of the ads contained explicit depictions of sexual situations, which reportedly were viewed by consumers who were not seeking adult material, including children. The ads reportedly were displayed to consumers searching online for "flowers," "travel" and "vacations."


According to the FTC's charges, the adult ads sometimes were distributed using spyware and adware.


The FTC claimed the practice of displaying adult-related pop-up ads without consumer consent was unjust and violated the FTC Act.


The settlement also requires Various to make provisions to ensure its affiliates comply and end its association with affiliates who do not. Additionally, the settlement calls for Various to establish an Internet-based method for consumers to submit grievances. The settlement also includes bookkeeping and record-keeping stipulations allowing the FTC to supervise Various' compliance.


The complaint and stipulated final order for permanent injunction were filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division.


According to the FTC, the stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute admission of a law violation. A stipulated final order requires approval by the court and has the force of law when signed by the judge.