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FTC v. Pereira

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Citation Edit

Federal Trade Comm'n v. Pereira, No. 99-1367-A (E.D. Va. filed Apr. 14, 1999) (Complaint).

Factual Background Edit

The FTC alleged that the defendants used "technical tricks and thievery" to drive consumers to defendant W.T.F.R.C. Pty Ltd's sexually-explicit, adult-oriented websites ("adult sites"). Defendant WTFRC then prevented consumers from leaving its adult sites by manipulating the normal functioning of consumers' Internet browsers. These practices exposed consumers, including children, to unwanted, sexually-explicit, adult-oriented content. These practices also cause hardship to employees who unintentionally violate company policies against visiting adult sites on the job. More generally, these practices prevent consumers from locating the websites they desire to visit, and impair the growth of the Internet as a commercial medium.

Defendant Pereira subverted the manner in which search engines delivered search results to consumers. Pereira made unauthorized copies of (or "hijacked") Web pages created by unrelated third parties and posted these copies onto computer servers operated by defendant WTFRC, and others such as The Entangled Web, so that they would be indexed by the "spider" software used by search engines. These copies included not only the images and text of the hijacked Web pages, but also their metatags.

Later, when using a search engine that has indexed one of these copies, consumers unexpectedly encounter defendant WTFRC's adult sites. This happens even when consumers searched for non-sexually-explicit topics, such as children's songs and books, recipes, automobiles, popular movies, and others.

This misdirection occurred as a result of Pereira making an alteration to every Web page he hijacked: he inserted a hidden line of software code, or "javascript," that contained a redirection command. When a consumer visited Pereira's copy, the javascript automatically and almost instantly redirected the consumer to one of WTFRC's adult sites, most often The consumer never actually saw the content of Pereira's copy, much less the original Web page. Instead, the consumer saw WTFRC's adult sites.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

A Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction Order were entered on January 25, 2005.

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