Notes: 15 June 2005 - Hotbar continues to display
the "Microsoft® Certified Partner" logo in
violation of Microsoft® policies. (They were still illegally
displaying the Microsoft Certified Partner logo as of August 1, 2006 - I
guess that means Microsoft doesn't really care who uses it; so from now
on Cloudeight is a Microsoft Certified Partner too!) SunBelt Software (developer of the anti-spyware program
"CounterSpy") will soon be upgrading Hotbar from "low-risk adware" to
"moderate-risk adware" in part, according to Sunbelt's Alex Eckelberry,
because of Hotbar's "...randomly named resuscitator program to resist
removal by anti-spyware software..." . You can read Sunbelt's article here.
Hotbar- The Saga Continues
Many of you are aware that Hotbar has sent
threatening letters to Cloudeight, which we in turn posted on the web in
a previous rant. Many
others have come forward and publicly posted threatening letters
they have received from Hotbar and other companies, who are largely
regarded by the anti-spyware community as "adware and/or spyware"
developers. We recently received a reply to our response to Hotbar's
"Cease and Desist" letter, in which Hotbar and its CEO Oren Dobronsky,
demanded that we publish his (Hotbar's) rebuttal. Therefore, we accede
to Mr. Dobronsky's "demands" and publish his reply (rebuttal). It
should be noted that both letters we received came by courier from
Hotbar.com, Inc., Tel Aviv, Israel. The rebuttal (reply) from Hotbar
was also transmitted to us via email from Hotbar's firstname.lastname@example.org address.
NOTE: Hotbar's letter
(direct quotes and in order) are in blue italic text followed by our
responses. For the sake of continuity quotes from Hotbar's letter
preface our responses. Here, therefore, as demanded by Hotbar,
we publish Hotbar's rebuttal letter in its entirety. And, publicly
post our comments and rebuttal response to Hotbar's April 2005 letter
(Quoted from letter received from Hotbar): "We received your letter of
March 11, 2005. We also note that you have published our
correspondence with you on your website. Since your response distorts
and misrepresents the facts in a manner which only causes Hotbar more
damages, you are hereby demanded to publish the following reply on our
behalf in order to present the complete facts:
First, we recently approached you since you did not comply with our
letter of March 2004 and kept publishing your web page (under the name
“Hotbar is spyware”) accusing Hobtar (sic) of being spyware. This page
has only been removed recently subsequent to our recent letter.
Therefore, we do not “have the wrong company” but rather have the
“right” company, which just keeps causing us damages as part of its
unfair practices, as detailed below.
As indicated in our first letter, many leading anti-spyware/adware
companies DO NOT detect Hotbar as spyware or any other kind of an
undesirable software (in addition, to the large companies mentioned in
our first letter, here are some additional examples: spywareguide.com
and their X-Cleaner/X-Block scanner, NoAdware, simplythebest.net,
free-web-browsers.com, XofstSpy, Spyware Stormer, Bazooka, PcOrion,
Spyware Nuker, Adwarespy and AlertSpy). Also, contrary to the
false contentions in your letter, McAfee and Doxdesk DO NOT detect
Hotbar or refer to it as spyware or adware. This is an
objective fact that can easily be checked by anyone, but for some reason
you keep choosing to ignore the facts and tell your user half truths or
First, we removed any Cloudeight content from the page "Hotbar Is
Spyware" in April 2004. What we did with that page, then, was provide a
list of links to sites which detected Hotbar as spyware. This was done
as a service to our readers to help them make an informed decision about
Hotbar. We published no content after April 2004 describing Hotbar as
spyware, although we did list many links to other major sites which did.
There were no resources on that page that couldn't have been found
easily by anyone doing a search on Google simply for the word "Hotbar"
or "Hotbar + Spyware". Since it remains our prerogative, and indeed our
right, to publish links to other sites on our site and since we do not
control the content of these other sites, we are not responsible for any
statements or content displayed on third-party sites. The fact that we
may agree with their assessment of Hotbar does not make us liable for
the content on those sites. For as you state in your own Hotbar "Privacy
Policy" "We are not responsible for the content of third-party sites
that we link to"; neither are we. Indeed we tell our readers
well-documented truth, not "half-truths" or outright lies as you
represent. We removed the page "Hotbar Is Spyware" because we had no
intention of wasting our time becoming embroiled in a ludicrous, petty,
and childish debate with you. The page was not intrinsic or important to
In reference to your statement that "many
leading anti-spyware/adware companies DO NOT detect Hotbar as spyware or
any other kind of undesirable software..." you have several
incorrect statements. In our opinion, the sites and software programs
you list (with the exception of McAfee) are not recognized as "leading
anti-spyware/adware companies". In fact, most are small independent
companies and certainly not "leading" companies with which most people
are familiar. McAfee, for instance, despite what you say, does detect
Hotbar as "undesirable" as it does refer to Hotbar as "adware". This is not
opinion; it is fact.
"...Also, contrary to the false contentions in your letter, McAfee and
Doxdesk DO NOT detect Hotbar or refer to it as spyware or adware. This is an objective fact that can easily be checked by
anyone, but for some reason you keep choosing to ignore the facts and
tell your user half truths or lies...."
We are not "liars" Mr. Dobronsky. Each statement we have made is
well-documented. And, contrary, to what you wish to believe
this McAfee page refers to Hotbar as Adware. McAfee also includes
information on how to remove Hotbar. And again, you present misleading
information about DoxDesk. While DoxDesk lists you as "reformed" it does
not give the reader a favorable impression of your software. This is a
quote from DoxDesk (reference: http://www.doxdesk.com/parasite/Hotbar.html
What it (Hotbar) does
Yes. Opens frequent targeted pop-ups (often from net-offers.net)
during browser use as directed by the server adopt.hotbar.com.
The oldest Hotbar versions do not open pop-ups. The newest
version adds a disclaimer to the bottom of the pop-up window
clarifying that the pop-up was originated by Hotbar.
Yes. Periodic contact with adopt.hotbar.com and tooltips.hotbar.com,
as well as contact with dynamic.hotbar.com on every new web page
access, passes the full URL being viewed for targeting, including
data entered into HTTP GET forms.
In older Hotbar versions a unique ID was also passed, allowing one’s
long-term browsing habits to be tracked across sites. In the latest
version, only the ‘tooltips’ accesses still pass this ID. However, a
different trackable ID is set in a cookie at install-time, allowing
web usage to be tracked for as long as the browser cookies are not
We also have knowledge that you have been in contact with one or more of
the smaller independent companies you list and that you have threatened
them with legal action and/or sent them "Cease and Desist" letters, then
you cite them as not detecting Hotbar as adware or spyware. The only
conclusions one can draw is that theses companies simply do not list
Hotbar in its database. We cannot know the real reason they don't list
Hotbar. People can and will draw their own conclusions about Hotbar
based on information freely available to them on the Web..
The following leading companies who produce
anti-spyware programs do recognize Hotbar as spyware and/or adware.
In your April letter you (Hotbar) claim: "In this regard, your accusation that Hotbar’s
software interferes with the operation of Outlook Express (which is
simply unfounded) is false."
There is no question that Hotbar changes the default settings of Outlook
Express from "Send pictures with message" (Default setting in Outlook
Express 6). You assert in your rebuttal letter of April 2005, that you
do not make any settings changes on the target computer. The changes
that Hotbar makes to Outlook and Outlook Express, prevent users from
sending pictures or stationery from their local hard drive(s) in their
email. This indeed interferes with the normal (default) operation of
Outlook Express. The setting changes that Hotbar makes interfere with
our stationery as well stationery offered by Microsoft, which it
provides, free of charge, with the Outlook Express email program.
The user, can of course, use Hotbar's content since all of it is stored
on various Hotbar Web servers. Therefore the ability to send pictures
from their hard drive in email does not work unless they figure out how
to manually change the settings back themselves.
Additionally, when Hotbar is uninstalled, it does not return Outlook
Express to its default settings. Therefore, when one installs Hotbar it
changes Outlook Express's default settings and when it is uninstalled,
it does not return Outlook Express to its default mode. These findings
are based on our tests of Hotbar done in March 2005. Therefore your
statement that Hotbar does not interfere with the operation of Outlook
Express is untrue.
"...You also conveniently chose to ignore in your
letter the fact that you consider Hotbar a business rival of yours (in
the field of e-mail enhancement tools), which is the explanation for the
harsh unjustified libelous statements you distribute about us...."
We are not a "business rival" of yours. This is blatantly misleading and
clearly untrue. It appears, once again, you have mistaken us for someone
else. FunWebProducts (AKA SmileyCentral, Ask Jeeves, MyWay, MyWebSearch,
MySearch, SpeedBar, MyEmailStationery, et. al.) is your competitor, not
Cloudeight. Their products mirror yours much more closely than ours.
And, in our opinion, it is the success of FunWebProducts that has sent
you off in a tizzy. It seems to us, that as a businessman, you should
certainly be able to more accurately determine who your real competitors
are and do whatever is necessary to compete with them. You should be
aware also, that your rival, FunWebProducts, has also been
examined by Ben Edelman.
Wasting your time and resources on a small "mom & pop" shop like
Cloudeight, is futile. You are well aware that Cloudeight does not
produce any sort of BHO (Browser Helper Objects) or Internet
Explorer or Outlook Express toolbars. And, you should know that we
(Cloudeight) do not have any facility in our products or on our Web
servers to track the Web sites our users visit or to display "relevant"
advertising based on their Web browsing history or search terms.
Hotbar clearly does this, and you (Hotbar) so state, regardless of how
deeply you have chosen bury this very important information within your
nearly incomprehensible license agreements or privacy policies. Our privacy
policy is quite simple: 1209 words of plain English, which you or
anyone may review at any time. We are not a business rival or competitor
of Hotbar or your biggest rival, FunWebProducts (SmileyCentral, Ask
Jeeves, MyWay, Iwon, MySearch, MyWebSearch, MyEmailStationery, et.al.).
is completely free and contains no adware, spyware, grayware, or
malware. In fact a search for Cloudeight + Spywarein Google does not turn up
a single negative statement about Cloudeight or Cloudeight Stationery.
We have earned our reputation as a site you can trust. We didn't attempt
to buy respect, we don't threaten or coerce others in an attempt to make
them respect us. Our readers, our guests, and those who download our
software can be certain, beyond a doubt, that we care about their
privacy and their right to download unadulterated software, free from
tracking devices, adware, spyware, hijackers, malware, grayware or any
other questionable software. We believe that our guests, subscribers,
and those who choose to download our software deserve the same respect
and the same privacy as we ourselves demand. We are the number one site
on the Internet for Free Email Stationery, yet we have spent less than
$500.00 total on advertising in over 6 years on the Web. We are not a
multi-million dollar company, and probably never will be. But, we are
trusted and respected, and that is how we measure our success.
We digress: Another claim you (Hotbar) make:
"...Millions of users download and use Hotbar’s software only for its
great features. Thus, for the sake of illustration, you “forgot”
to tell your readers that a search on Google for Hotbar + Emoticons
turns up 47,800 results, more than the results you relate to in Google
search for Hotbar + spyware - there are much more websites and users
which praise the great features of Hotbar’s software rather than
distribute false libelous statements about it...."
Actually, a search on Google for Hotbar+Emoticons turns up 130,000 "hits" (Search
Conducted on June 9, 2005) and many of these "hits" are not
complimentary to Hotbar. In fact, some of the few sites praising Hotbar
are Hotbar itself (and sites owned by Hotbar such as
www.spamfree.com which is registered to Oren Dobronsky / Hotbar).
You use the term "libelous" quite freely. Your letters are peppered with
the term. "Libel" is defined (in the USA) as "An untruthful
statement about a person (company, organization), published in writing
or through broadcast media, that injures the person's reputation or
standing in the community." Statements of fact cannot, therefore, be
libelous. Truth can never be libel.
You continue to display the "Microsoft Certified Partner" logo on your
pages. This might lead your visitors to believe that Hotbar has been
"certified" by, endorsed by, or is in some way connected with Microsoft.
This is simply not true. Yet, it seems to us, that in an apparent
attempt to lure people to download your product and to lend Hotbar an
aura of respectability and credibility,
you continue to use Microsoft's Certified Partner logo in violation
of Microsoft's own terms. (Screen shot taken 6/09/05).
The Microsoft Certified Partner logo does NOT mean the program is
certified by Microsoft, endorsed by Microsoft, or recommended by
Microsoft. This is what Microsoft says: "The partners listed in the
Microsoft Resource Directory are part of the Microsoft Partner Program,
however Microsoft does not endorse any of the partners or their
software, solutions, services and training listed on this site.
Microsoft disclaims any and all liability arising out of your use of the
partners, software, solutions, services and training listed on the site.
All software, solutions, services and training are provided “as is” and
without warranty unless provided by the authoring partner."
And, once again, your document arrived at our offices from Tel Aviv,
Israel and your email was sent from Israel, yet you continue to use the
New York address as if Hotbar is actually "based in New York". It
appears you like to give that impression. We have photographs of your New York office, which you list as the International
Sales Headquarters of Hotbar.com, Inc. along with statements you made to
the press (after receiving millions of dollars in capitalization) that
you were going to "take
Manhattan by storm".
There is nothing wrong with being located in Israel, Canada, Australia,
Germany, or anywhere else. Why you feel the need to be a U.S.
based company is beyond our understanding. Indeed a search of corporate
filings shows Hotbar.com, Inc. registered in in the United States
(Delaware) as a foreign corporation.
As for your conclusion that we are jealous because you are "more
successful" than us, we remind you that "success" is a subjective term.
The loyalty and trust of our guests and subscribers is the measure of
our success, and by our definition, we have been very successful.
As far as your statement that we are "jealous" of Hotbar we have no
comment; your own words speak for themselves.
You may continue to deny you are adware or spyware, but clearly, your product uses an individual's computer resources to
display advertising (buttons, sidebars, and popups) in, around, and over
Internet Explorer, Windows Explorer, and Outlook and Outlook
Express. You continually obfuscate the fact that you track a person's
web browsing and typed search entries and display advertising based on
an individual's Web browsing and typed search entries. You do this in
several ways: Buried deep in a 4500+ word License Agreement, and a 3500+
you can reasonably assume almost no one is ever going to read them. And,
on this page, you state that "Hotbar does monitor the
websites you visit for the sole purpose of presenting contextually
related information." You refer to advertisements as "contextually
related information." One might think that Hotbar was somehow going to
educate them with "contextually related information", because in
the English dictionary "information" is defined as "Knowledge derived
from study, experience, or instruction". What knowledge will the use of
Hotbar provide its users? You claim you monitor the websites that
people visit for the "SOLE" purpose of providing contextually related
"information". We were not aware that information is a synonym for
Apparently Hotbar has corrected its Truste Problems - therefore see our
TRUSTe Rant. Again, it appears you use the TRUSTe seal
to give your program(s) an aura of trust.Ben Edelman clearly shows what your product does and
how you target children. Apparently, you have no problem with targeting
children and inducing them any way you can to install your product.
Ben Edelman states: "...What's the big deal about offering software via
methods that tend to reach children? For one, children generally cannot
enter into contracts -- so even if a child clicks the "Yes" button
Hotbar subsequently presents, Hotbar's license terms may not be binding.
Also, children may be less able to assess the merits of an Hotbar offer
-- less able to determine whether Hotbar software is a good value, less
likely to realize the privacy and other consequences of installing such
software, less inclined to examine a lengthy license agreement. ..."
But, today we are acceding to your demands and are publishing your entire letter of April 2005. We
have, to the best of our ability, factually answered your claims and. we
have, when necessary, clearly documented our responses.
We believe that respect is earned, not bought or won with threats,
intimidation, or coercion. If you had chosen a different and more
forthright approach with people then perhaps your products would have
earned the trust and respect for which you now so desperately yearn.
We will not accept any further communication with you or Hotbar.com,
Inc.. We do not have the time to waste engaging in a fruitless and petty
war of words with you. In the final analysis, the Internet community,
not us, will decide the fate of Hotbar. Its reputation is now well
known. The reputation Hotbar has earned among the Internet community is
your responsibility, not ours. Your attacks on us and others and letters
such as one we respond to here do nothing to enhance Hotbar's
reputation, image, or credibility on the World Wide Web.
Hotbar® and Hotbar.com® are Reg. U.S. Pat & TM office
166 IBEN GVIROL ST - BEIT WALLA
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
WE BELIEVE ANY TIME YOU INSTALL A PROGRAM OR PROGRAMS, YOU SHOULD
RESEARCH THE PROGRAM THOROUGHLY AND READ THE ENTIRE TERMS OF SERVICE,
INSTALLING IT. WE URGE YOU TO USE COMMON SENSE AND BE AN INFORMED
USER BEFORE INSTALLING ANY SOFTWARE PROGRAM ON YOUR COMPUTER. THE ABOVE
ARTICLE IS TO PROVIDE YOU INFORMATION CONCERNING HOTBAR'S MOST RECENT
LETTER TO CLOUDEIGHT INTERNET LLC ONLY. HOTBAR, HOTBAR.COM, ARE
REGISTERED TRADEMARKS OF HOTBAR, INC. WE URGE YOU TO CONDUCT YOUR
OWN RESEARCH ON ANY PROGRAM YOU INSTALL. SIMPLY USE A GOOD SEARCH ENGINE
(GOOGLE, MSN, YAHOO, ETC.) AND TYPE IN THE NAME OF THE PROGRAM PLUS THE
WORD "SPYWARE" OR "ADWARE".