Deconstructing The Gator EULA

from the what-have-you-done-lately? dept

Gator has been working very hard lately to change their reputation as a spyware provider. From threatening those who call their software spyware to changing their name to run away from the spyware association they've been trying to present themselves as a consumer friendly company. However, there's what you say and what you do. Broadband Reports is pointing to Ben Edelman's deconstruction of Gator's EULA, where it seems pretty clear that the company isn't particularly consumer friendly. Among other things, they forbid you to use other software to remove the product. As Edelman points out, Claria/Gator always defends "user choice" in putting the application on their computer -- but they no longer support user choice when it comes to removing it. Also, for a 63 page license agreement, the company is particularly sneaky in explaining what they really do. That is, nowhere in the agreement do they mention that they will be dumping a ton of "pop up ads" on users' computers. The only mention of pop up ads concerns a survey from Gator.


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  •  
    identicon
    KCT, Dec 1st, 2004 @ 8:14pm

    Hypocrisy by Ben

    Ben Edelman makes a living creating a false sense of insecurity related to these claims. Ask Ben who has paid him for services. Ask Ben who he's "asked" to pay him for services. Ben is a smart twenty-something (younger than you think) who needs to show more responsibilty in his bashing when he portrays himself as a researcher.
    I don't disagree that Claria has an extensive EULA. I also don't agree that pop-up advertisements can be annoying. But I also find it ridiculous that we make such a big deal about something that (1) requests consent at install regardless of it's length (2) includes an entry in add/remove programs (3) provides attribution in its pop-ups.
    My biggest problems related to this crusade is the hypocrisy and unique standards Claria is held to. Why not attack AOL for their practices? They deliver unattributed pop ups if you use their IM client (see their TravelZoo ads), they bundle Viewpoint so they can deliver more sophisticated advertisements (find me that consent and EULA), they take enormous ad buys from Freeze.com and others who proliferate the distribution of adware products, they even use Claria as a method to promote their services (see their press release today about their video search services). I can create a similar story about Yahoo or Real Networks.
    The Internet is full of agressive activity associated with Internet advertising. Everyone has their hand in these advertising methods. Let's stop being hypocritical and self-righteous about what is right and wrong and take responsibility for our own actions. If you lack the patience or intelligence to understand Claria's process or how to uninstall it, then you shouldn't be operating a computer.
    I'm tired of the whining about Claria (and WhenU and 180 Solutions) when your real complaint is the Internet as a whole and its attempts to deliver advertising. It seems like you seek an overly utopian pipe dream to me (although I clearly know why you do it).
    The World has bigger problems than Claria and other legitimate adware companies.

     

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      Mike (profile), Dec 2nd, 2004 @ 1:19am

      Re: Hypocrisy by Ben

      Ben makes his associations pretty clear.

      As far as I can tell, your argument is that others are worse than Claria, so we shouldn't worry to much about them. That seems silly. You claim that Claria requests consent, when a large part of the problem is that many people seem to find themselves stuck with Gator without realizing it (making you question what kind of consent is necessary...). You say it has an add/remove, when many people have found that's not the case.

      As I've said many times over, I have no problem with adware as long as the user knows exactly what it is he or she is installing and has an easy way to opt out. So far, Claria isn't at that stage yet.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Turf-Troll Hunter, Dec 2nd, 2004 @ 1:26am

      Re: Hypocrisy by Ben

      "Ben Edelman ..."

      You certainly seem to have studied him. What is your relation? Target?

      "I also don't agree that pop-up advertisements can be annoying."

      Of course you don't.

      "Why not attack AOL for their practices?"

      Go ahead.

      "Everyone has their hand in these advertising methods."

      Blatantly false. I personally know many people who don't.

      "If you lack the patience or intelligence to understand Claria's process or how to uninstall it, then you shouldn't be operating a computer."

      What a load. People shouldn't need to know a thing about Claria to use a computer. They souldn't need to be lawyers either.

      "I'm tired of the whining about Claria (and WhenU and 180 Solutions) when your real complaint is the Internet as a whole and its attempts to deliver advertising."

      Don't you wish.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      jeremiah, Dec 2nd, 2004 @ 2:13am

      Re: Hypocrisy by Ben

      quote: "If you lack the patience or intelligence to understand Claria's process or how to uninstall it, then you shouldn't be operating a computer."

      Send me your home address, KCT - i wanna beat the cr*p out of you.

      With love, of course.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        alison kayla bleiweiss, Dec 25th, 2005 @ 11:16am

        have some private boyfriend and girlfriend time

        hi i just love the fact that when i hang out with my boyfriend jordan claus at my house we just love to have some private boyfriend and girlfriend time in my room so we can cuddle up and just chill

         

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    •  
      identicon
      thecaptain, Dec 2nd, 2004 @ 5:25am

      Re: Hypocrisy by Ben

      "I'm tired of the whining about Claria (and WhenU and 180 Solutions) when your real complaint is the Internet as a whole and its attempts to deliver advertising."

      Really? Well I'm tired of companies like Claria lying about their products in their attempt to make money off my time and computer resources.

      I'm tired of hearing astroturfers like yourself saying: "(2) includes an entry in add/remove programs" so its cool...when in fact it gets proven OVER and over again that Claria (and OTHERS, they AREN'T held to a "unique standard") does NOT uninstall but leaves the spyware bits running in stealth so that no one BUT either a knowledgeable IT person OR a special app can remove them.

      So you know what? Yes, the world has bigger problems, but until we cure cancer, find world peace, eradicate starvation does NOT mean I have to put up with unscrupulous companies like Claria

      Claria = Gator = Spyware. Period.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Ben Edelman, Dec 2nd, 2004 @ 6:38am

      Claria Has No Add/Remove Entry

      KCT specifically claims that Claria "(2) includes an entry in add/remove programs." This claim is demonstrably false. Install Claria in the Kazaa bundle, and there will be no such entry. (I know, because I did precisely this test a mere few days ago, and I kept a screenshot to prove it.)
      My article couldn't be more clear on this point:
      If Gator were easy to uninstall, users might not need to resort to third-party removal programs. But Gator makes its software hard to remove. Browse to Add/Remove Programs on a computer with Gator installed, and there's often no entry for Gator. Instead, users are required to identify, find, and remove all programs that bundle Gator, and only then is Gator's software designed to uninstall. This unusual removal procedure -- unique among all programs I've ever encountered -- makes Gator difficult for users to remove.

      As to the bulk of the rest of KCT's message: I don't care to let this forum be distracted from substance to personal attacks.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2004 @ 6:48am

        Re: Claria Has No Add/Remove Entry

        Ben, I'm still reading your report (about halfway through it, myself) and I for one will say how nice it is to see Gator getting some more bad publicity. The lawsuit they won recently just goes to show how much more proof needs to be made public. Information like the stuff you are sharing with the public is helping people in law understand what exactly they are dealing with, and not "Legitimate software"

        (Saw your video of the spyware hell from one website as well. Keep up the good work!)

         

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        jeremiah, Dec 2nd, 2004 @ 7:58am

        Re: Claria Has No Add/Remove Entry

        Ben:

        I just completed a malware (5 hours) purging on a friend's PC. I can say with certainty now that the 27 (yes, twenty seven) programs that had installed themselves had all anchored from a Kazaa install. Claria (of course) was among them, along with Coolwebsearch, 180 solutions, HotBar, etc.

        There's one particularly annoying trick with Kazaa, where it hijacks your Task Manager so you can't shut down Kazaa. Also, there's a popup (seems triggered by the word "diet" in a webpage) that waits three seconds once it's the "forward" window, then moves around the screen for a few seconds while you chase the red "X" with your mouse.

        Gator/Claria is spyware, spyware, SPYWARE.

         

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        jeremiah, Dec 2nd, 2004 @ 8:08am

        Re: Claria Has No Add/Remove Entry

        Ben: I just read the top two reports on your site (about to watch the video) and just wanted to put down one more post saying: "Great work!"

        I've sent the url to about a dozen compatriots in the IT field who hate spyware more than....well, they hate it a lot.

         

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        Gerald F. Bales, Feb 24th, 2005 @ 11:39am

        Re: Claria Has No Add/Remove Entry

        Ben.
        Anyone who combats the proliferation of those who want to take over the control of my computer has my wholehearted support.
        I have has a computer since the old 8088 processor but am by no means an expert in any part of its operation nor the software it runs.
        If I didn't need third party spy/adware removal programs on my computer then they would not be their nor would I take the trouble to learn how to use them if they weren't necessary. They have helped me to deal with many of the problems you have mentioned.
        Thank you and keep after them.

         

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    •  
      identicon
      nick, Dec 2nd, 2004 @ 1:50pm

      Re: Hypocrisy by Ben

      you obviously work for claria/gator to make those ridiculous comments. These applications are virus like in their nature and are almost impossible to get rid of, even for those who do understand how computers work.

       

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        thecaptain, Dec 4th, 2004 @ 5:36am

        Re: Hypocrisy by Ben

        He either works for them or he's a first class, grade-A prime troll :)

        If the latter, he's skilled. The former, well he's a moron.

         

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    •  
      identicon
      peoplewhodontlikebeing takenadvantageof, Aug 9th, 2007 @ 2:51pm

      Re: Hypocrisy by Ben

      in response to your comment
      'The World has bigger problems than Claria and other legitimate adware companies.'
      ya, people like you.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Simon, Dec 2nd, 2004 @ 4:37am

    EULA

    So according to their EULA, I can't format my hard drive without first uninstalling their product (hard drive formatting being the ultimate uninstall for many people)?
    I also seem to be in troubled waters running my software firewall which sniffs the traffic being sent/received and presents it to me before letting me decide whether to let the connection proceed or not....

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Hector Denton, May 6th, 2006 @ 10:33pm

    Try EULA Analyzer Tool

    To see how many other EULA's stink with hidden clauses and their readability scores check out SpywareGuide.com's new EULA Analyzer Tool. Very neat and let's you book mark and save them. Free. http://www.spywareguide.com/analyze/index.php

     

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