Monday, April 19, 2004

is Congress finally going to address spyware?

It seems that legislaters are finally getting worried about spyware and adware, or at least the FTC is, which is a step. The CDT is on the case:

"There's a number of concerns about spyware, which is that it takes away consumers' control over their computers," said Ari Schwartz, associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington. "We consider privacy to be a control issue as well," and many spyware programs act as surveillance tools for advertisers without the users' consent, he said. In February, the group filed a complaint with the FTC arguing for stricter enforcement against two companies involved in using software for allegedly deceptive and unfair ads.

Many users do not realize it, but almost anytime you download shareware - free online software such as P2P programs, screen savers, or icons - you also get some spyware or adware. You probably even agree to it by clicking a box after a long end-user agreement you didn't read. This is called a "drive-by download." These small spyware programs that are placed onto your computer allows the company or person who created the spyware to have access to your computers controls and settings and also allows them to track your web usage. In theory, they could also steal information like your credit card numbers, it is only a matter of time before someone does this and causes serious problems for lots of people.

It seems that this method of drive-by downloading (as well as some spyware which is placed on your computer without any warning) is an unfair and deceptive business practice. I believe that is the thrust of the CDT's argument to the FTC. Hopefully the FTC will listen up.

(Get a spyware killer - I recommend Search and Destroy, which has worked well for me.)

Via The Washington Post.


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