It became the mantra for web advertisers: the more irritating an advertising technology was, the more the ads that used it would get noticed… and the more business they’d generate.

Well, maybe not. Tech firm X10 — noted mainly for those “pop-under” ads for tiny wireless surveillance cameras — has filed for bankruptcy.

It’s a direct challenge to those of us who believe the universe is a fundamentally unfair place. Apparently, there may be some justice around after all.

Apart from the annoyance factor (and that’s a mighty big “apart from”), there was the creepy feeling of viewing an ad that encouraged you to take nudie pictures of unsuspecting women. This wasn’t in the Web’s seamier neighbourhoods, either; the New York Times had X10 pop-unders for a long time.

X10’s web site used to have a little disclaimer that said, in essence, that you shouldn’t be upset about their ads because they were financing Web content. Great — groped by the invisible hand of the marketplace.

But while markets are a pretty unreliable karma delivery system, every once in a while they get it right. Kudos, Adam Smith.