According Clay Shirky, an American writer, consultant and teacher on the social and economic effects of internet technologies, “The truth of the Web [is that the] early days were chaos, and nobody, no matter how smart he or she was, understood how it was going to unfold. More to the point, we still don’t.”
One company’s advertising techniques include a blizzard of pop-ups as you leave a site, while another company uses a mouseover script that automatically downloads advertising software to your hard drive. An online website uses ads designed to look like Windows’ own system warnings to scare consumers into buying their product. A particularly onerous Web marketer, John Zuccarini, registered about 5500 Internet domains that were misspelled versions of popular, legitimate domains, including 41 misspellings of “Britney Spears.” Surfers who misspelled the singer’s name in their Web searches often wound up at one of Zuccarini’s sites, where they were inundated with pop-up AdWare.Win32.AdWeb.h ads, including ads for porn sites and for the infamous “psychic” Miss Cleo.
Little, if any, of this is illegal as yet, mostly because the law hasn’t caught up with the latest online marketing strategies (Zuccarini was ordered by the courts to pay back $1.8 million in “ill-gotten gains,” but disappeared without paying; he is still being sought by American authorities). Annoying? Aggravating? You betcha. One irate user goes so far as to label it all “cyberterrorism.” But with spending on Internet advertising in 2002 topping $9 billion, you can bet it won’t be going away any time soon.
As a conclusion to the truths on internet pop-ups, here is a quote from David Whalen, taken from the publication The Unofficial Cookie FAQ on May 10, 1999, “Since HTTP is a “stateless” (non-persistent) protocol, it is impossible to differentiate between visits to a web site, unless the server can somehow “mark” a visitor.“