FTC To Host Spyware Workshop

Discussion in 'Spyware' started by Ray Normandeau, Feb 21, 2004.

  1. The Federal Trade Commission will host a public workshop, "Monitoring
    Software on Your PC: Spyware, Adware, and Other Software," on April
    19, 2004, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. The workshop will explore
    issues associated with the distribution and effects of software that
    is loaded on personal computers without users' consent and that
    gathers and sends information about users to third parties or that
    adversely affects the computers' functioning. A Federal Register
    Notice describing the workshop in more detail will be published
    shortly. The workshop, which will be held at the FTC's Conference
    Center at 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., will be open
    to the public.

    The workshop generally will focus on four areas:

    Defining and Understanding Spyware, including a discussion of how
    spyware may differ from adware;
    Distribution of Spyware, including the role that peer-to-peer
    file-sharing may
    The Effects of Spyware, including the extent to which spyware affects
    the functioning of personal computers and raises privacy or security
    concerns; and
    Possible Responses to Spyware Concerns, including a discussion of what
    consumers, government, and industry have been doing and intend to do,
    by themselves or together, to address the harms associated with
    Interested parties can submit written comments, including studies,
    surveys, research, and empirical data to Federal Trade Commission -
    Office of the Secretary, Room 159-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.,
    Washington, D.C. 20580. Comments and envelopes should be marked
    "Spyware Workshop - Comment, P044509". Interested parties also are
    encouraged to submit written comments to the following e-mail box:
    . Persons seeking to participate as
    panelists in the workshop must notify the FTC in writing of their
    interest in participating and describe their expertise in or knowledge
    of the issues. Panelists will be selected based on whether they have
    expertise or knowledge; whether their participation would promote a
    balance of interests being represented at the workshop; and whether
    they represent a group that shares a viewpoint.

    A detailed agenda and additional information on the workshop will be
    posted on the FTC's Web site at

    Copies of the Federal Register notice are available from the FTC's Web
    site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response
    Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.
    20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent,
    deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to
    provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To
    file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer
    topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1 877-382-4357), or use the
    complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet,
    telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into
    Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of
    civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
    Ray Normandeau, Feb 21, 2004
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  2. Ray Normandeau

    Joe Moore Guest

    Here we go again. The FTC has noticed the spyware problem and is
    scheduling a workshop. About 7 years ago, the FTC noticed the spam
    problem and scheduled a workshop. If you compare spam today with
    the way spam was about 7 years ago, you'll get an idea as to what
    spyware will be like 7 years from now if the FTC follow its usual
    You'll notice that the FTC already has a working definition of spyware
    and that their working definition is flawed. Their definition implies
    that once the consent is given to load a program, that program isn't
    spyware, regardless of what it does or whether the computer owner is
    informed about it.
    This is when the spyware industry will be given the opportunity to
    define spyware as "that which we don't do".
    This is when the attempt will be made to scare the public away from
    peer to peer networks.
    This is when spyware vendors will be given the chance to say that
    privacy or security concerns are groundless because "we would never
    do that even though we designed our software to give us that
    This is when the most outrageous spyware vendor will be given equal
    status with the most aggrieved spyware victim and the resulting lack
    of agreement will be cited in coming to the following conclusions:

    1. The spyware industry should be given the chance to self-regulate.

    2. If you clicked a "yes" box at any time during any software
    installation process, what you installed wasn't spyware.

    3. Spyware is the fault of the uneducated consumer who fails to find,
    read, and understand licensing agreements which would give Harvard Law
    graduates headaches.

    The following conclusions will not be reached or even approached:

    1. The use of someone's computer for your own purposes without the
    informed consent of the computer owner is a theft of service and
    should be punishable by law.

    2. The use of someone's computer for the purposes of a business
    without the informed consent of the computer owner is an "unfair
    and deceptive business practice" as defined by the FTC in current

    3. The FTC should currently be issuing "Cease and Desist" letters to
    spyware vendors.

    I'm really looking forward to when the FTC notices the blatant fraud
    problem and holds its first Blatant Fraud Workshop. Then upstanding
    members of the Blatant Fraud industry can get together to define
    Blatant Fraud and be given the chance to self-regulate.

    Is anyone here planning on going to the Spyware Workshop?

    Joe Moore, Feb 23, 2004
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  3. Ray Normandeau

    B.J.Honeycut Guest

    From a legal standpoint, one cannot give consent to that which one has not
    been informed of. Only if you ae lazy and do not read licensing agreements
    are you subject to such folly. Just because one is in a hurry is no excuse
    to not read what one is getting into. The main concern is for drive-by
    installs or hidden installs.

    "Time will bring to light whatever is hidden;
    it will cover up and conceal what is now shining in splendor."
    Horace (65 - 8 BC); Roman poet.

    B.J.Honeycut, Mar 7, 2004
  4. Ray Normandeau

    Joe Moore Guest

    You know, I used to think exactly the same thing. Then I helped
    someone set up a brand new Dell computer. After paying a small fortune
    for a computer loaded with software recommended by Dell, she turns it
    on and is greeted by a never ending series of license agreements which
    she must agree to in order to run the computer she just paid for.

    This is extortion. I guarantee you that the only people who actually
    read and understand such a barrage of legalese are legal scholars.
    The vast majority of people just hope that Dell would't ask them
    to agree to something unreasonable and click 'yes'.
    Just because you have the consumer over a barrel is no excuse to
    force them to make concessions they don't understand. Is one required
    to hire a lawyer to use a computer these days?
    That may be your main concern, but I contend that
    the prepackaging of spyware in products which
    are purchased by unsuspecting consumers is just as
    insidious and worthy of attention by the FTC.

    A reasonable person does not expect the paperwork he signs
    when purchasing a new car to contain a paragraph giving
    the manufacturer of the spark plugs the right to come over
    and drive the car whenever he feels like it. Burying such
    a paragraph in a long document composed mostly of reasonable,
    car purchasing language should be seen for what it is: An attempt
    to get the consumer to indicate agreement to something he doesn't
    know about.

    I contend that the spyware permissive EULA situation is exactly
    equivalent. It is attempt to get consumers to unknowingly indicate
    permission for outsiders to use the consumer's computer for the
    purposes of the outsider.

    As such, it is an unfair business practice.

    Joe Moore, Mar 7, 2004
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