Is Zango getting a bum rap?

It's easy to get on Zango, considering all of their run-ins with the Federal Trade Commission and other parties that were not too happy with their deceptive adware practices.

In the FTC's case, the agency accused Zango of offering customers free web content, such as screensavers and games, without telling them it contained adware. This resulted in targeted (and very, very, very annoying pop-up) ads.

When the FTC settled with Zango last year for $3 million, the company promised to implement new standards required by the government agency.

But in July, privacy researcher Benjamin Edelman, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, said Zango continued to install adware without proper disclosure to customers.

Then we read Thursday about Fortinet's discovery of a malicious widget on Facebook - an application to find out who your secret crush is - that allegedly leads users to adware from Zango.

It might be easy to return a verdict of guilty, but not so fast, says Zango.

Zango vehemently denies that it had anything to do with this.

"A thorough investigation by Zango security personnel reveals no silent or surreptitious installation of any software, much less any 'spyware,' by or in connection with the 'Secret Crush' widget," a spokesman wrote today in an email.

Zango goes on to claim that it tried to contact Fortinet about this alleged misunderstanding and got no response.

Is Zango cleaning up its act? I'm not sure. But at least they are becoming more open and transparent about their operations, and, most of all, are willing to address any accusations lobbied their way.

And for that, they are to be congratulated. Of course, this is coming from someone whose PC - knock on wood - is adware free.

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