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Federal Trade Commission releases 62 page report on Spyware

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The FTC has released a very interesting report about their findings on spyware. The report is a bit lengthy at 62 pages, but I plan on reading this and distilling the most interesting points here on the site.

I immediately noticed this quote from the report relating to the difference between adware and spyware. It appears that even industry experts can't seem to agree on how adware and spyware differ:

Workshop panelists and commenters stated a range of views as to whether and when adware should be classi?ed as spyware. Some panelists argued that adware is spyware if users have not received clear notice about what the software will do or have not provided adequate consent to its installation or operation. In turn, some types of adware would not meet some de?nitions of spyware because they do not monitor computer use. Other workshop participants apparently would view adware as spyware if it causes consumers to receive pop-up ads, regardless of whether consumers are bombarded with such ads or just occasionally receive such ads.

If the industry can't seem to agree on even what spyware is, how can we expect the FTC or other governmental bodies to effectively legislate on this issue?

Read the entire report here (1.1Mb)

Afterthought: We've seen this same type of confusion recently when Lavasoft, Computer Associates, and Aluria decided to de-list WhenU as "spyware". Many industry experts, some of them rather thoughtlessly, expressed outrage at the de-listing, continuing to label WhenU as spyware, when they should actually be considered adware.

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Posted by Rich at March 13, 2005 01:30 PM | TrackBack

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