Would You Trade Your Privacy For Free Calls?

from the hope-not dept

We've been arguing for a while that cheap phone calls aren't what should make VoIP compelling. Rather, providers should focus on more compelling applications and offerings (or, better yet, opening up and letting others develop those apps to make their service more valuable). However, as the race to ever cheaper calls continues, one new firm is offering up a VoIP service that seems to be pretty questionable. The system basically works like the early Dialpad offering from many years ago. You go to a website, and can punch in your phone number and the phone number of someone you want to call, and the system will call both of you and connect you. It's also free for up to five minutes. Nothing particularly new or interesting there. Then comes the fine print which (of course) no one reads. Turns out that as you're agreeing to use the system, you're also opening up your computer to them and granting permission for them to spy on everything you do. While it's likely this may just be the result of a typically over-reaching lawyer writing up a ridiculous terms of service, it still reflects poorly on the offering.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    John, Feb 10th, 2006 @ 8:12pm

    No Subject Given

    Personally I have little problem with the terms of service now that I am aware of it. The benefits of having a free or extremely cheap phone calls would be worthwhile for many. Though I think it should be mentioned outside of the fineprint.
    As for the comment about the race for ever cheaper calls… There is a reason for it, people want cheap calls. 16 of the 17 people I know who use voip as their primary telephone service do so because of the price. The 17th person does so because he had a horrible experience with the telco years back and won’t deal with them again.
    No-one I have ever met, or talked to, would choose voip only because of the features.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    al diego, Feb 10th, 2006 @ 10:56pm

    get an old computer and beat the spys

    System requirements are none realy. So you could just use an old computer to punch in the phone numbers and let them spy all they want on this system. P1 systems can be had for under $40.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Feb 10th, 2006 @ 11:01pm

    I've seen Comcast offering some services.

    I found out today that comcast is offering broadband phones now with numbers and everything in the Michiana area. I found this an interesting tidbit that kind of related and with so much discusiion on this particular topic I decided I'd pipe this one in. They are running free calls period for 40 bucks a month. Not a bad deal really, though if you just used you voice chat in IM you'd achieve the same goal without spending the 40 bucks a month for a phone that can call anywhere anytime when you already have that exact cable there being used for the same purpose. It won't change until they see they can't make money at it and they can.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2006 @ 10:17am

    No Subject Given

    dont we have enough privacy problems just living in the god damn united states....jesus

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Dam, Feb 11th, 2006 @ 12:19pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Please name one problem you have. I don't have any, maybe you could enlighten us.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    virtuald00d, Feb 11th, 2006 @ 1:09pm

    Virtual?

    You know, this kind of thing brings to mind yet another good reason for virtualization.

    Go ahead and setup a VM on your box for doing such VOIP-bugged, Luxemburg legalized phone calls for free. They can't look at any other VM's, just the one you have the software installed on (which would hopefully be rather minimal in function and scope--maybe a good use for that ancient copy of Win98... :) ).

    Do your real work in a different virtual machine.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2006 @ 1:12pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    shutup apologist

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    JerseyRich, Feb 11th, 2006 @ 3:43pm

    Re: I've seen Comcast offering some services.

    Comcast called me here in Jersey offering their $40/month service. But I currently get service with Vonage for $17.84 (total cost, including taxes) a month, so I'm sticking with Vonage.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Paul, Feb 11th, 2006 @ 7:32pm

    You get what you pay for...

    Is this "free" service really anything new?
    (Take the most common one I've run across: WeatherBug)

    As the adage goes, "if it sounds too good to be true..."

    Research your contracts and if you don't agree with the cost/value defined then, simply don't use the service.
    Ultimately this comes down to educated consumers but considering e-mail scams are still so effective...

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    other anonymous coward, Feb 11th, 2006 @ 8:20pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    "shut up you apologist" Wow great comeback.
    Here's a tip: don't talk about something if you know nothing about it. :x

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Jeremy King, Feb 11th, 2006 @ 8:45pm

    Re: Would You Trade Your Privacy For Free Calls?

    Hmmm.... Must be the NSA! =))

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Mark Hayes, Feb 12th, 2006 @ 8:41am

    Well...

    Why not just use a public computer and payphone to do this?

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Jason, Feb 12th, 2006 @ 10:35am

    Re: get an old computer and beat the spys

    Better yet, run a vmware copy of windows XP. Use it only for phone calls, will work and it doesn't matter what they "spy" on in there.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Josh Tomaino, Feb 12th, 2006 @ 1:56pm

    Oh well

    As long as you're not looking at porn while you're making your call, what's the problem?

    Yeah right. I have time warner digital phone service packaged with roadrunner and cable tv, etc etc. So it's pretty well setup, and definitely well priced in comparison with most.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2006 @ 8:59pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Not really? What are you afraid of? You a criminal?

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    ORIGINAL Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2006 @ 10:09pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    ...you dont have ANY security flaws huh? look at the court case on google searches and the govt, how would you like that type of monitoring =), next time you try to act smart RESEARCH FIRST DUMBMBASS

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Michael, Feb 13th, 2006 @ 10:03am

    Re: No Subject Given

    The fine pritn for Jajah isn't that bad. The reference the following:

    "This information may include the URL from which You arrived, the next URL You may visit, what browser You are using and your IP address."

    That's just general info embedded in every web request you make by your browser.

    They also reference:

    "JAJAH may collect information about any activity being performed by You while using the Product, including any correspondence between you and other users of the JAJAH site, messages left by You on any board or any searches and requests performed by You."

    They're simply referring to your usage of their own service, not your complete web activity. In other words, they track messages between users OF THEIR SERVICE and posts on the JAJAH.COM FORUM, and web requests FROM THE JAJAH.COM SITE. They're not out to track all of your activity, nor could they with their technology. Yes, the wording is very very poor, and I do have an issue with it, but the intent seems clear and the portrayal by you and the scum that is Mark Hachman isn't completely deserved.

    I usually respect posts here on techdirt.com, but sometimes you guys only serve to make the already over-hyped stories that much worse.

    Be honest, but be objectively honest!

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    The Blogateer, Feb 13th, 2006 @ 3:14pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Seems as though our privacy is well...not PRIVATE anymore!

    Always read the small print.

    Actually, why does the small print contain the bigger issues?

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    The Blogateer, Feb 13th, 2006 @ 3:16pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    sorry, gave out the wrong url??
    http://www.blogateer.com

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2006 @ 9:21am

    ad-supported phone service

    This is kind of off-topic, but I might consider granting a call-center an exception to my number being on the do-not-call list, if they would pay my complete phone bill.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    djak, Apr 12th, 2006 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Re: No Subject Given

    i love free calls

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    privacy and you, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 7:42am

    if you live in usa there is nothing private about you.

     

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