Wednesday, October 05, 2005

What is spyware?

Ok Gurus here is your chance to shine.  It seems as though the Government can't come to a good conclusion on just what spyware is.  They feel if they label it a certain way then certain Apps will be caught in the rut of the definition of it.  While other spyware will end up free as a bird to do as they please.  So the laws they are trying to make to protect the public could backfire on many software vendors, as well as the public. 
Yes I have two cents worth of my own buzz on this.  But after considerable thought on the subject.  I found my self having doubts on my own definition on it.  I could see between the lines on how anyone could come along and misconstrue the definition just to "get even" with a company they felt had done them wrong in one way or another. Possibly even trying to get rich off of them.  Maybe even getting upset because the APP wanted a email addy and a name.  Plus if you look at many of the APPs today quite a few would be engulfed into being called spyware because of how they install.  One of those that come into mind is "America's Army".  Several other games have protection built in to keep the person whom is cheating, or trying to cheat from cheating.  They could be hit hard by such a law. 
So what is spyware? 
I consider it any APP/software that installs a program capable of collecting data of the user not related in no way to the original software for the purpose of gathering info on the user(s) or the computer to commit illegal financial gain with the information collected on the user(s).  Like gathering the social security numbers, birthdays, maiden names, snail mail addresses, tax information, keystrokes, timed pictures of the desktop, websites visited etc. I will also include that the spyware can or could be used to sell information on the data collected from a user(s).  You have to include the selling of information, because many people have been hit hard by individuals collecting data to sell. And because if you don't then many software vendors could turn a blind eye to what a piggy back software is doing along with their software. Not to forget how the selling of data has affected many businesses. The catch phrase of "gee I didn't know" could be used, and would be very hard to prove in court.  You would also have to add that it is the responsibility of the software vendor to be sure that a piggy back software is not illegal. The same goes for any business.  You have to know how the info if it was collected could be used against a client.   
If it is a software program that helps with editing graphics then they have no business what so ever needing any personal information on the user.  Game software only needs to know what you have installed in the main folder of the game.  They don't need to know what you have installed in your "My Documents" folder.  The same goes for any other APP you have installed on your computer.  As far as business is concerned, they must be forced to protect the clients personal data.  Sorry folks but in the past most business used a half ass means of protecting data collected on their clients.  They wont clean up their act so someone needs to lend them a helping had, tell them how it is, and force them too.   
I also have to make it a point to say that their should also be a clause in the law to stop piggy back software period.  Because even now the software vendors have developed a way around letting you know that the piggy back software is there.  They bury it in the EULA.  The EULA is always a mile long and somewhere in that rubbish is a small note stating they have a piggy back software also included with their APP.  The law they have now only states they have to let you know that the software is there what it does etc.  So they do in a small as way as possible so not to disturb the reader trying to find the bottom of a damn EULA that goes on forever saying how you have no rights to own their software, and how their asses are protected from you.   
I realize this has nothing to do with spyware but I am almost to the point of not installing software unless they have a small EULA with just the facts instead of rambling on like they do.  Hell, I am not out to marry the software I just want to use it.  Enough already, let me get on with the install.  Perhaps even EULA standards should be in place for all software vendors to follow?
What ever the case what is your legal definition for what spyware is?

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