FTC Appears To Disagree With Zango On The Legitimacy Of Spyware

from the who-to-believe? dept

While Zango cast yesterday’s announcement that a class-action suit against it had been dismissed as a validation of its spyware-driven business model, the lack of any stated reason why the lawsuit got tossed — plus the fact that people don’t really trust spyware vendors, let alone ones that get caught doing dirty tricks — didn’t make that interpretation very convincing. Further undermining Zango’s claim is the news that the FTC has shut down another spyware vendor, as well as a few more details on the class-action suit. The suit wasn’t thrown out — the plaintiffs withdrew it, with their lawyer saying that they determined a class-action suit wasn’t the best vehicle for the case. This probably has more to do with the probability that the lawyers would collect a decent fee than whether or not the case actually had any merit, and the fact that no judge or jury actually ruled on the merits of the case hardly “vindicates” Zango, as its counsel claimed. For now, we think we’ll defer to the FTC on the legal situation of spyware, rather than seeing a class-action lawsuit that’s been voluntarily dropped as a definitive statement that adware and spyware are perfectly legit.


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Comments on “FTC Appears To Disagree With Zango On The Legitimacy Of Spyware”

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16 Comments
anti-zango says:

what ever happened to....

What ever happened to the “good ol’ days”? By that I mean when the internet was actually run by moral people who did not allow such flagrant abuse of a system primarily designed to bring information to the people.

IF and I repeat IF Zango actually provided some actual utility rather than a spyware driven search bar I would be more likely to tolerate their spyware at least long enough to run Spybot.

However, IF I wanted a desktop search bar, I would use google’s.

Even the big players are resorting to spyware, in that I am directly referencing the Yahoo! Search bar, and the Yahoo Msnger.

It happened only once on my machine but after reading the log from TeaTimer I saw that Yahoo! was infact bundling in spyware.

Winamp was doing the same thing for a while, however winamp has ceased and desisted as it were.

Honestly, I think the recent epidemic of Spyware/adware and pop ups could be solved by one simple law being passed in congress stating that not only is it Illegal to install programs on a users machine without their knowledge it is a Federal Offense punishable by a fine equal to the estimated worth of the end users machine paid directly to the end user, along with imprisonment.

Not, however, very likely we’ll see that in our life time.

thetoe says:

Re:what ever happened to:

The last thing I want is legislation by people who don’t understand the problem. Besides, anything passed by the Congress can only be enforced inside U.S. borders. The internet has a little more reach than just that. I don’t like feeling like I have to put a big ol’ condom on my PC everytime I want to go online but that is the nature of the world we live in. Use Spybot, Ewido, Norton, etc. and surf safe. Or not and get infected.

jsnbase (user link) says:

Besides the fact that I don't think more laws are

“Honestly, I think the recent epidemic of Spyware/adware and pop ups could be solved by one simple law being passed in congress stating that not only is it Illegal to install programs on a users machine without their knowledge it is a Federal Offense punishable by a fine equal to the estimated worth of the end users machine paid directly to the end user, along with imprisonment.”

As often as not, they are notified – albeit 40 pages into a EULA. The real solution would be to pass legislation outlawing asshattery in general, but then what would we all do all day?

sickOfSpyware says:

The real problem is software that hides itself and cannot be removed by simple methods. That is what should be illegal.

Enforcement will always be an issue. Enforcement will not work if we only hold the software company liable. To be effective we also need to hold the users of the software liable. If advertisers were putting themselves at risk they would ask more questions before they paid Zango or similar businesses for promotions or consumer data. This would keep them away from the clear violators and even force those working in gray areas to clean up their acts for fear of lawsuits.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: sickOfSpyware

The real problem is software that hides itself and cannot be removed by simple methods. That is what should be illegal.

Well, I’d say I’m with you in spirit, but any legislation written to that standard would cause as more confusion than it would clear up. What definition of ‘hiding’ would we use that would attack spyware but not the Windows Registry or legacy CD-ROM drivers? What are ‘simple methods’? I assume you want a nice big ‘UNINSTALL’ button (as do I), but running AdAware is still pretty simple.

I would suggest we avoid legislation as much as possible and try to educate people about spyware and the companies that spread it. Otherwise, we’re just running around screaming ‘there oughta be a law!’

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“The real problem is software that hides itself and cannot be removed by simple methods. That is what should be illegal.”

In that case we should sue microsoft for internet explorer…

jokes aside, I’m against any legislation reguarding what software can or can not do. What should be Illegal is already illegal, Intrusion into your system (such as installation without user intervention), and stealing data.

In most cases, somewhere deep within some EULA you’ve agreed to install this spyware on your system. Granted it is WRONG to bury it deep like this, and provide no uninstaller, but it is not, and should not be illegal. Extra legislation is not needed, and I can definitely forsee problems this could cause in the future.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending Zango, those bastards can fry in hell for all I care, I’ve cleaned up enough computers to have come across their “products” many times..

Sanguine Dream says:

I would like to see...

a simple legislation. By simple it would only require that all software/programs that are about to be installed must be listed at the beginning of the ELUA. Folks like Zango get away with this crap because they hide the list of the spyware you’re about to get hit with inside of a 40 pg EULA. Force them to list it all at the beginning. Take way their place(s) to hide.

A chicken passeth by says:

“In most cases, somewhere deep within some EULA you’ve agreed to install this spyware on your system. Granted it is WRONG to bury it deep like this, and provide no uninstaller, but it is not, and should not be illegal.”

This is called ‘sneakwrapping’, and it SHOULD BE ILLEGAL… you basically never give the customer a chance to agree/disagree; it’s under the same category as ‘we have the sole right to change the terms of agreement at any time’. If EULAs weren’t legally bonding, nobody would mind – but most of them are.

I’ve learnt this in business course – never give the customer a clear choice; always tell them that it’s the only way – or slant the offering in your favour. It’s the way the business world thinks…

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