Sunday, April 11, 2004

Gator/Claria serving up pop-up's and an IPO

Ever heard of a company called Gator? Well they are a notorious “adware” company, if you call them “spyware” Gator may sue you for libel, like they did to PC Pitstop not long ago: “If we find anyone publicly calling us spyware, we correct it and take action if necessary, said Scott Eagle, Gator's senior vice president of marketing.”

The difference between adware and spyware is pretty grey – Gator claims that their software is not spyware because when you download their program it comes as part of a bundle that you get with Kazaa or other shareware – and in that process you click “ok” to some contract of adhesion that you don't actually read. So in essence you’ve agreed to have Gator on you computer tracking your surfing and serving you ads. This “drive-by download” method is the only way to get it on users computers. Spyware, on the other hand, finds it way onto your computer in more nefarious ways and without your permission.

There are clear privacy issues with such software. Whether these companies utilize deceptive and unfair business practices is yet to be determined. In the meantime, it seems that companies like Gator have used libel law to chill public speech critical of what they do.

Gator has recently changed its name to Claria and has filed for an IPO to raise $150 million to “continue developing its behavioral marketing platform.” Great.

Via Wired.


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