Eightball and Thundercloud's RANT

Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
From InfoAve Premium Issue #54 - Revised on July 10, 2007
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Creative Writing 101

Preface: As of July 10, 2007, there are new spyware laws pending in the United States Congress. But the new spyware laws are suspiciously like the old ones already in place. These laws are not designed to protect you - no siree! They are designed to protect the spyware (adware) developers. It represents another no-win situation for the common folk - and yet another victory for the rich and powerful. How long can we allow our leaders to work for the rich and powerful, ignore the masses while pursuing their own personal wealth and power before we say "enough is enough!" Apparently, no one cares. Do you?

Today, we take a humorous -but sadly honest look - at how spyware (adware) developers manipulate the system and tell you why spyware (adware) is only going to get more pervasive. Not in spite of the new anti-spyware laws, but because of them. You would think we would learn from history. But those who choose to ignore history will be doomed to repeat it. That would be us, would it not?

The article which follows was originally written in 2004. It could have been written on July 10, 2007. Because essentially nothing has changed. The new spyware bills pending in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives are almost identical to those passed almost three years ago. When will we ever learn?

The United States Congress recently passed two spyware acts. The news media have reported these pending new laws as if they were the most significant things to happen to the Internet since broadband. One might start actually believing that spyware is on its deathbed.  But, did you know that these spyware acts do not make spyware illegal per se, they merely make it mandatory that spyware companies inform you that their products are spyware and ensure that you actually choose to to install this junk rather than having it forced upon you?  The heart of legislation is in the interpretation and there is plenty of wiggle-room in these two laws.

Legal spyware? Of course. All a spyware developer has to do, to comply with the new laws, is inform you that the program you are about to install is going to make x,y,z changes, transmit x,y,z, data about you, show you popup ads, hijack your browser or search engine, etc. Also, the developer has provide a link to download rather than automatically ramming the spyware down your computer's throat without your knowledge or permission. The license agreement must contain all the information about the spyware program including what it will do when installed on a (your) personal computer. But, spyware developers know, (and we all know this is true) most people don’t read EULAs (End-User License Agreements). And, even if they did, the EULA could be creatively written to make spyware sound really cool; even desirable.

That brings us to today’s course in creative writing. Let’s pretend we’re spyware developers and we have a program called “GummyFun” that has made millions for us and provided us with a lavish lifestyle. We note the spyware acts have passed but we’re not concerned! We are a multi-million dollar company! We think: "Lawyers". So, we hire the legal firm of Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe to render an interpretation of the spyware legislation and look for loopholes. We certainly don't want to have to stop buying new Beamers every year (red convertibles, please). We especially don't want to stop having beautiful babes or gorgeous guys (depending) serve us drinks on our yachts. Our handy-dandy GummyFun Toolbar has been good to us. Who cares about all the computers we've ruined? Hehe...certainly not us! (Jeeves, would you bring my car around?)

Every advertisement splattered on all the desktops and popped up by our GummyFun Toolbar are "targeted ads". <Grin> They're targeted ads because we spy on our users to find out where they surf, what they search for, what they look at (hmmm if Robert's wife only knew!) and what they buy. Targeted ads are little gold mines because "targeted" means we can charge the advertisers A LOT for them. We're pretty slick eh? AH yes, and business is good because all it takes to dupe unsuspecting lumps into downloading GummyFun is a few thousands dollars worth of custom animated smileys. It’s almost like buying Manhattan Island for a couple of beads and trinkets :-)

After a couple of cursory (and expensive) reviews of the spyware laws, the firm of Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe informs us that in order to comply with the new spyware laws we must tell prospective users what information will collect about them, how we will use that information, what we will do to their computers, and if and how we will hijack their browser or search engine, and other legalese ad nauseum. No problem! We decide to re-write our EULA to contain all the information needed to “comply” with the law. Not the “spirit” of the law of course. But comply with the letter of the law we shall.

So, we write a “creative” EULA fit for a college course in creative writing. We'll call our course: "Creative Writing 101: Writing Spyware End-User License Agreements".


 “GummyFun” is a really cool program that makes it easy to put funny gummies and smiley faces in your email! Yep, you'll be the envy of your friends when they see your cool gummies squirming to and fro in your emails. What fun! And it's FREE, FREE, FREE!

GummyFun will install a toolbar in your email program and Web browser to make using GummyFun easier for you to use. This cool toolbar will also help you search the web by showing you results relevant to your interests. Isn’t that neat? We can tell what you’re interested in because we will automatically track the web sites you visit, the images you see and the software you download, the products you buy, your usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers and store them all in our GummyFun database. We might not share your information with anyone but it may sometimes be necessary for us to do so: like for instance when we need the money to buy new yachts. Modern technology is great, isn’t it! Here's an example: If you’re looking for digital cameras, we keep track of the type of camera you’re searching for. That way we can display really neat advertisements with all sorts of digital camera deals and digital camera accessories. You won't even have to open your browser because we'll pop these things right up on your desktop! Now, how's that for convenience! Think of the time this will save you! All of these advertisements we will display in your browser and on your desktop are paid advertisements. Hey, we have to make a buck too! The more we make, the more cool Gummies we can give you FREE! FREE! FREE!

GummyFun will also change your browser's home page to GummyFun’s home page. That way we can show you even MORE great advertisements and other great deals on almost everything you could ever want! You'll never to worry about having some dumb, boring web site to look at every time you open your browser. No Siree! Our GummyFun home page is your home page! It's full of flashing advertisements, gaudy colors and animated gifs; designed to catch your eye and make your web experience more exciting. And, guess what? This service is free because we're your friends! We all love you here at GummyFun. We want you to have a great time on the Web and to find the best deals available (as long as you buy from one of our advertisers). And we promise to collect all the information we can about you so we can enhance your web experience even more and provide you with even more really great advertisements and sorta-relevant search results based on thousands of your previous searches. And, again, we want to remind you these services are FREE, FREE, FREE! That’s right! FREE!

And, hey, you know those pesky Web forms you have to fill out, the ones where you can never remember all those darned usernames and passwords? Well, worry no more! GummyFun Toolbar will keep track of all your usernames, passwords and credit card numbers and store them safely on our servers so that just in case your computer goes belly-up, you can get them back again from us!  Can you believe it? It’s true. We are watching out for you. And guess what? This service is FREE! FREE! FREE! FREE! All this information we collect about you will only be sold to third parties if they pay us a ton of money! We won't sell you cheap! That's a promise!

So, now that you know what great folks we are here at GummyFun, you can relax and trust us. In order to download our GummyFun toolbar you have to agree that you have read and understand the above (DUH!) and that by clicking the following link to download you agree to be bound by the terms in this EULA. Additionally you agree to and understand that we may, in order to keep your GummyFun toolbar up-to-date, show you really cool and relevant advertising on your desktop and in your browser, and store all your personal information on our servers (what a great service, eh?) freely access and communicate with your computer via our Web servers. Yes you grant us 24 hour access to your computer so we can make your GummyFun experience more pleasurable. All your personally identifiable and not-so-personally identifiable information is kept sorta confidential unless of course we can sell it for a lot of money in which case we'll give you lots more Gummies free! FREE! FREE! FREE! That's the GummyFun promise!

Now you know what great people we are and what fun web products we have...what the heck are you waiting for? Start getting all these great services right now PLUS all the cool little smiling, jumping gyrating gummy smileys for your email by clicking THIS LINK!


Meanwhile, back on the yacht..."Hey, Barbie! Love your new bikini babe! Would ya bring me another martini, shaken, not stirred, two olives....and get my stupid pilot on the phone, I want my Gulfstream here to pick me up tomorrow. I have to go see Senator Slimeball - it's time for another payoff...."


 Tell us what you think! Please

And while you're at it, do you have any slimeware on your computer? Check it out now! Scan your system with Spyware Doctor - the ultimate enemy of slimeball companies.

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