Is Dell Putting Spyware On Computers?
from the doesn't-seem-so-smart... dept
Dell hasn't always had a great reputation when it came to spyware. A few years ago, they got into some PR trouble when internal memos came out telling tech support staff that they couldn't even tell callers about anti-spyware apps, because Dell was afraid such apps might remove some products that Dell was putting on the computers itself. Soon afterwards, though, Dell changed its tune. After realizing that a ton of the calls their support staff was getting related to spyware, Dell suddenly began an education campaign about spyware for its customers. Apparently, some of its executives need the same lesson. Someone on Dave Farber's Interesting People list is complaining that Dell is about to automatically install what appears to be a piece of "spyware" on many Dell computers. The app in question is a support app, like many that are becoming increasingly popular from various computer makers. In this case, though, the app will continually report back to Dell various information about the computer's setup. Other support apps do the same thing -- but the user has at least some say in whether or not the app gets used. Apparently (and this has not been independently verified, other than the email on the mailing list), the Dell app cannot be stopped using the normal "add/remove" functionality -- despite the app itself telling people to remove it that way. Instead, since the app runs on its own separate partition, Dell's pricey tech support told the guy the only way to remove it is to format that extra partition. That seems a bit extreme (it would seem that a firewall might also block any such transmissions, and there should be plenty of ways to stop the app from starting up in the first place...). Either way, though, it does seem a bit heavy handed for Dell to install an app that is not easily uninstalled by users -- especially one that is constantly reporting home with user details. Update: In a further response, it appears that Dell's tech support staff may have been at fault, and it is entirely possible to remove the software at the app level. However, the confusion over this matter certainly suggests they need to do a better job letting customers know how.