You gotta read this article in the latest Wired. Warning: You’ll get angry, so if you’re going out with friends and just want to relax, wait until you’re in a mood to be grumpy.

While it’s not perfect, it gives a good view into the world according to Claria.

Back in 2002, Gator was one of the most reviled companies on the Net. Maker of a free app called eWallet, the firm was under fire for distributing what critics called spyware, code that covertly monitors a user’s Web-surfing habits and uploads the data to a remote server. People who downloaded Gator eWallet soon found their screens inundated with pop-up ads ostensibly of interest to them because of Web sites they had visited. Removing eWallet didn’t stop the torrent of pop-ups. Mounting complaints attracted the attention of the Federal Trade Commission. Online publishers sued the company for obscuring their Web sites with pop-ups. In a June 2002 legal brief filed with the lawsuit, attorneys for The Washington Post referred to Gator as a “parasite.” ZDNet called it a “scourge.”

Today Gator, now called Claria, is a rising star. The lawsuits have been settled – with negligible impact on the company’s business – and Claria serves ads for names like JPMorgan Chase, Sony, and Yahoo! The Wall Street Journal praises the company for “making strides in revamping itself.” Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that Microsoft came close to acquiring Claria. Google acknowledges Claria’s technology in recent patent applications. Best of all, government agencies and watchdog groups have given their blessing to the company’s latest product: software that watches everything users do online and transmits their surfing histories to Claria, which uses the data to determine which ads to show them.

Link here.  Oh, and check out Paretologic’s comments, which are good, here.

It’s scary.  And very educational.

Alex Eckelberry