Adware Report: More on Spyware Smear

In a previous article, Spyware Smear Campaigns, we discussed how we uncovered an article at SpywareGuide claiming that Aluria Software was compromising the privacy of their customers by selling their contact information to third parties. We discovered that this article was not only written by the CEO of a rival software company, but was, shall we say, just a bit misleading as it totally misquoted Alurias privacy policy.

Well we have new developments to talk about!

But first, lets state explicitly that there is a difference between reporting about this and being a participant. Some readers have written in trying to engage us in a debate about this. To this we responded more or less, please feel free to debate it with Aluria, well be happy to just watch. That said, lets continue on with this story.

CastleCops has found out that the privacy policy quoted in the article did indeed exist at one time (February, 2004 was when it was pulled down). Based on this, they write:

Adware Report has it wrong, and Spyware Guide was correct. The link above thanks to Web Archive clearly shows in the first paragraph of Aluria's Privacy Policy, that the statement did in fact exist. Compare the Web Archive to the statements made at Adware Report and the Google Cache of Spyware Guide. With this evidence that our anonymous reader presents, Spyware Guide has every right to bring back their now defunct articles.

Note: Updated with new evidence, showing SpywareGuide was correct about Aluria.

And there the article concludes, smugly and not-so-subtly suggesting that Adware Report owes everyone a big fat apology.

Not so fast, fellas.

There are a few problems with this conclusion that are sadly, the signature of the anti-spyware jihadists who lurk in various warrior forums and other places round the net. Not that we disagree with their sincerity and enthusiasm mind you (because we hate spyware, too) but rather when youre looking for a conspiracy, everything looks like a conspiracy. The problem is sometimes theres just no conspiracy there. And from the discussions we've had with everyone about this, thats the case with Aluria.

For starters, the article was a smear job, plain and simple. It stretched the interpretation of Alurias privacy policy to the absolute limit in an effort to paint them as being some kind of evil company that will sell your credit card number, social security number, and anything else you give them to whomever they want.

It was about the most superficial, one-sided argument one could make.

It completely ignores the fact that this doesnt make the slightest bit of sense for a privacy company because it would cause irreparable damage to their reputation. It ignores the fact that Aluria has never sent out a marketing email to its customers. It ignores the fact that Aluria forbids all of its affiliates from making use of email marketing. And most of all, it ignores the fact that 99% of most privacy policies on the internet are created as cut-and-paste jobs by harried marketers who didnt really take the time to think about what they were putting up there, and not by lawyers who understand the implications that these privacy policies can have.

In short, Wayne Porters article in so many words claimed that because Aluria legally could, that they would. All reasonable explanations be damned. Coming from an anonymous netizen with no connection to the spyware industry, it could be overlooked as someone being a bit overzealous. But coming from the CEO of a rival anti-spyware company, it's hard to imagine that it had any other purpose than to paint Aluria in the most negative light possible.

Its not too much of a stretch to imagine why someone like this would write such an article: Prove Aluria is untrustworthy, and there is one less competitor to worry about. Nothing like a good old fashioned negative advertising campaign to stir up some business.

However, if youre going to put a smear job like that out there, you should at least make the slightest effort to check it, say, once a year and see if its still accurate. But CastleCops says they shouldnt. And they dont bother to ask Wayne Porter why he left it up there. Why not? Because it was literally accurate at one time, so therefore they should be allowed to leave it up with no further notice necessary.

Well, technically they might be right. But its still sleazy marketing.


Oh, wait. I almost forgot the most important thing. This has been an incredible waste of time. I've had lengthy emails from a Harvard lawyer, two CEOs, engineers, and who knows who else who want nothing more to argue about this ad nauseum. And you write me and want to know why I've had three WHOLE days to respond to this and yet I haven't, and don't I have some kind of responsibility to society to correct this terrible wrong I've perpetuated? No, gosh darn it, because I've been doing productive things like reviewing spyware, spending time with my family, playing with my dog, eating turkey, and getting away from the computer as much as possible. You should, too. Stop writing about about 10-month old privacy policies already. Geez.

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