Our take on things

Our Opinion

You Can Send Them Home

Write your U.S. Representative and send them a link to this article. The link is http://thundercloud.net/infoave/you-can-send-them-home.htm and tell them what you think.

You can't send them on a free, exotic vacation. But, you sure can send them home.

And, that's exactly what should be done with the U.S. Representatives that allowed themselves to be massaged, cajoled and bought by advertising lobbyists. The diluted I-Spy Bill which passed the U.S. House of Representatives this week is a toothless, worthless, shadow of what it could have been - and what it should have been.

The bill which was passed on May 22, 2007 is supported by the "adware" industry. This bill was passed by voice vote and a record of each Representative's vote was not kept for the record. So, you'll never know how your Representative voted unless you write and ask them. Are you surprised?

Congresswoman Lofgren's legislation removes all of the stringent provisions contained in previous legislation proposed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. That legislation would have required software distributors and advertisers to clearly notify and obtain informed consent from consumers before programs or software bundles could be installed on a user's computer. It would have protected the average computer user from the most common type of spyware - which is referred to by many as "adware".

As to why the more stringent provisions were left out of the final I-SPY legislation ( read the complete text of the I-SPY ACT here), Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California said those types of requirements could hurt innovation and technology investment (read "the adware and spyware industry"). She continued, "Focusing on bad actors and criminal conduct is preferable to an approach that criminalizes technology or imposes notice- or consent-type requirements." Lofgren doesn't have a clue.

In other words, Rep. Lofgren, is saying: "let's not punish the adware industry for sapping consumers' computer resources;  let's not punish these nice companies because they install dozens of programs without informed consent - it's OK to install seventeen programs even if the user thinks they are getting only one - it's OK to track every move the user makes as long as it is for the purpose of making lots of money. So, let's not bother these wonderful companies! Let's give the adware and spyware makers even more freedom! Let's allow them to continue to propagate, grow, and flourish. Let the users eat cake."

It is interesting to note that Rep. Lofgren's biggest contributor is Computer/Internet sector. Do you think she might have been influenced slightly by the $89,000.00 she received from them?

The vast majority of adware and spyware would not be punishable under the I-SPY act. And, penalties for the "criminal activities" which this bill covers, are already covered. It's illegal to steal someone's credit card number and use it. Whether you steal it from their trash, or online - it's already a crime. This bill does nothing at all except protect the adware and spyware industry. It's a waste of time for us, the Internet user.

Most cyber-criminals involved in phishing schemes and online theft aren't located in the U.S. anyway. Does Lofgren think he's writing legislation for the world? I'm glad this lady isn't my Representative. Is she yours?

The fact is that most of the spyware and adware you and I are most likely to find buried in our computers is not covered by this lame legislation. The lobbyists (read "Big Money") bought your congressmen again. And the losers are you and me. Again. So what else is new.

When will we finally realize that the people we send to Washington, don't represent us. They use us. They use us to gain a position of power and then work for the moneyed interests. And it is we, the voters, that empower them to do so. 

One of the provisions of the original spyware act (the strong, stringent one proposed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee) was called the "Good Samaritan" provision. What this provision would have done was protect anti-spyware advocates and the anti-spyware software industry from frivolous lawsuits. The lawsuits this legislation would have prevented were the type that Hotbar threatened us with a couple of years ago - and the one that was just filed by Zango against PC Tools (Spyware Doctor).

The "Good Samaritan" clause would have protected anti-adware and anti-spyware software developers from frivolous lawsuits like the one Zango has filed against PC Tools. It would would have allowed companies like Cloudeight and other small sites to speak out, without fear of being sued out of existence by a company like Zango. Right now, when we tell you the truth about adware and spyware companies we put our company at risk.

Under the "Good Samaritan" clause of the original legislation proposed by the House Energy and Commerce committee, we would have had the right to speak out without fear of frivolous lawsuits. The "I-SPY ACT" made sure that spyware and adware makers, who have already extracted billions from computers like yours, can use it to file frivolous lawsuits against companies like PC Tools and companies like ours. If we are sued, we cannot afford to defend ourselves. We couldn't laugh off $3 million like Zango did. $3 million is more than we will ever have. You don't make much money telling the truth these days. A frivolous lawsuit filed in a court with a pro-adware judge could bankrupt us and other companies like us. It's not fair, it's not right, but that's the way it is and the U.S. Congress wants to make sure that Zango and other companies like them can continue to operate unimpeded.

If the U.S. House has its way, and the I-SPY ACT is approved by the Senate and signed by President Bush, the adware and spyware industry can celebrate a huge victory. And you my friend are, once again, just a pawn in the game played by the wealthy.

The current "frivolous lawsuit of the day" is Zango Vs. PC Tools. Adware provider Zango has sued computer security software vendor PC Tools over its Spyware Doctor anti-spyware program, alleging that it illegally removes Zango from users PCs without notifying them.  They're crying  "FOUL!" because Spyware Doctor doesn't give users enough notice or informed consent before it zaps Zango's adware from the user's computer.

You want to talk about the pot calling the kettle black? This is a perfect example. Zango, a multi-million dollar baby born of the marriage between 180 Solutions and Hotbar, has literally amassed a fortune by using the "failure to give notice" and not providing enough information so users can provide informed consent before they install Zango's adware.

Last November, Zango reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission to pay $3 million in ill-gotten gains in response to charges that it deceptively installed adware onto PCs without user consent and then obstructed its removal, which violated federal law. Zango considered that settlement a "victory".

Apparently $3 million is chicken feed to a successful adware company which has been bottom-feeding on personal computers for years. Dubious adware applications, such as those offered by Zango, suck up precious computer resources, using the personal computer's own resources to display advertisements on the consumers monitor. This must generate some pretty good revenue since a $3 million fine was considered a "victory".

All this comes at a cost to the user of course. While you might not be able to put a dollar amount on it, the cost in computer resources and user annoyance is the price the users of adware pay. But, let's not forget the damage that adware and spyware can cause. They are the number one cause of computer repairs. And, the computer repair bill (no pun intended) can be measured in dollars. Sometimes in hundreds of dollars. Maybe Congress should pass a "Computer Repair Bill" and our Representatives take responsibility for covering the cost of repairing computers damages by adware and spyware the I-SPY ACT ignores.

Companies like Zango would continue to flourish under the I-SPY ACT. You can bet there will be celebrations at Zango and companies of their ilk if the U.S. Senate ever enacts this lame legislation.

Zango is quick with the lawsuits and threats should anyone dare call them spyware, although under most definitions their products are. And, Zango's products certainly fit under the definition of spyware's kissin' kousin': adware. Not only do Zango's plethora of adware programs gum up computers, sap system resources and track users wherever they go, they also cheat advertisers and sponsors. Ben Edelman proves this in this excellent article.

If our U.S. House Of Representatives has its way, companies like Zango would be protected and you, the average Joe, wouldn't. So what else is new? Our country becomes more and more a country where big business is protected and consumer isn't. I guess I shouldn't be surprised by any of this. Still, it really gets me that we, the people, are little more than pawns in the big game played by moneyed interests and big business.

Zango would protest that they do give give potential users notice and provide them with enough information and the opportunity to give informed consent before the installation of any of its "software". But, will the average user really ever see it?

They pretty much tell you everything they're going to do to you and your computer in a long and complex privacy policy,(3000+ words), terms of use, (4900+ words) and separate End User License Agreements (of varying lengths) for each of their "programs". And, they feast on users who don't or won't spend an hour or two reading all of this documentation before installing Zango software on their computers. In fact, they count on it. And they profit from it.

I want to ask you right now: How many times have you actually read an entire privacy policy, plus an entire End User License Agreement, AND a terms of use contract - before you installed a software application? I will bet you that users who spend a hour or two reading all of these contracts before installing software amount to less than 5% of the total. And probably far less than that. The other 95% are liable to be the fertile soil into which the seeds of adware and spyware are planted; and from those seeds grow many money trees.

In reality, Zango could care less if they makes an informed decision before installing their "software". If they did, they wouldn't bury all the negative aspects of installing their software deep with documents that they know very few will ever read.

But, ironically, they get all bent out of shape when the table's turned. They don't like it that Spyware Doctor allegedly doesn't give the user an opportunity to make an informed decision about whether to allow Spyware Doctor to remove Zango's "programs".

If you're going to an install anti-spyware application on your computer, the only point of doing so is to remove adware and spyware from your computer. Right? Whether it threatens your online privacy or not, these software applications drain your computer's resources, use your computer for a billboard at the developer's whim, and tie your computer to a server on the Web where information can flow freely in both directions and new software installed on your computer with or without your "informed consent" and sometimes without your knowledge.

The Zango could have never filed this frivolous lawsuit if the more potent anti-spyware legislation proposed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, passed and become the law of the land. The "Good Samaritan" clause would have seen to that. And Zango, Hotbar, and all the others like them, would have had to obtain informed consent for every single application they install. And, they would have had to give users' notification of advertising and notice whenever information was being transmitted to or from their computer.

But the "good" anti-spyware law that would have protected consumers from the criminals as well as the prolific adware and spyware purveyors on the Internet, will never be passed into law. While it would have protected you from being misled and tricked into installing adware and spyware onto your computer (which are by far the ones you are most likely to encounter) instead of just the relatively small criminal element that lurks in the dark corners of the Web.

While the criminals are dangerous and keyloggers and password-stealing spyware applications which steal your private information need to be stopped, they represent a very small percentage of the total adware and spyware problem. And most of the things the I-SPY ACT would outlaw are already against the law. Like stealing your identity - or your credit card number, for examples.

It's the adware and spyware program that  do anything "criminal" except cost consumers billions of dollars in computer repairs, sap computer resources causing a frustrating and annoying computer experience, and cause computer users' untold aggravation, that need to be stopped - but won't be stopped if the U.S. House of Representative's bill is passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President of the United States of America.

The I-SPY ACT was a complete waste of your Representative's time. No wonder it was passed by voice vote and no record kept of the votes. They don't want you to read the text of the bill. If you did you'd see what it is: A sham, just like the adware and spyware software industry the bill seeks to protect. You will read it, won't you? How did your Congressperson vote? Write them and ask.

Congress is counting on its superficial attempt to stop adware and spyware to create the illusion that they are actually doing something about one of the most pervasive and growing problems on the Web today. What they are really doing with this bill is giving the adware and spyware industry a green light to conduct business as usual. Almost everything this bill makes a crime is covered under laws already in place.

It's clear to me that the U.S. House of Representatives has been bought by the advertising industry. In essence this bill puts an official seal of approval on adware. If this bill is passed by the Senate and becomes law, the spyware and adware industry will grow stronger and bigger and more ubiquitous than ever. And you will have your Congressperson and Senators to thank.

The lobbyists bought their ticket to wealth from the U.S. Congress and your computer will continue to be the source of fortunes for the adware and spyware industry. Maybe your Congressman was one of the ones bought by adware and spyware lobbyist money? The voting record won't tell you, you'll have to write to them and ask how they voted.

This Spy Act is a bad act, created by bad actors for bad actors. It's bad for you and it's bad for the Internet. I hope the U.S. Senate won't be as easily bought by lobbyists and special interests as the U.S. House of Representatives. If the I-Spy Act ever becomes law, it will be a legal shield that will protect the adware and spyware industry. It won't protect the millions of nascent computer users who are tricked into downloading this kind of garbage unto their computers every single day. The only winners are the Representatives who took the money, the adware and spyware purveyors, and the computer repair shops. The big losers are, once again, you and me.

Lobbyists and the special interest groups - as well as the adware and spyware industry they represent - are awash in money. They can send your Representative on free trips to exotic destinations. They can wine and dine them, give them all sorts of expensive gifts, buy their votes and influence their decisions. But only you can send them home.

Tell us what you think - Please

Write your U.S. Representative and send them a link to this article. The link is http://thundercloud.net/infoave/you-can-send-them-home.htm and tell them what you think.

Registry Mechanic - The only Registry Cleaner, Fixer, and Optimizer that we trust to run on our own personal computers.Registry Mechanic - A Cloudeight Endorsed Product
Download A Free Trial of Registry Mechanic by PC Tools

With Registry Mechanic you can safely clean, repair and optimize the Windows registry with a few simple mouse clicks! Problems with the Windows registry are a common cause of Windows crashes, slow performance and error messages. By using a registry cleaner regularly and fixing registry errors your system should not only be more stable but it will also help improve your system performance without expensive hardware upgrades. Download A Free Trial of Registry Mechanic by PC Tools

Registry Mechanic uses a high-performance detection algorithm to quickly identify missing and invalid references in your Windows registry. These problems can occur for many reasons including being left-behind after the un-installation or incorrect removal of software, by missing or corrupt hardware drivers, or orphaned startup programs. Download A Free Trial of Registry Mechanic by PC Tools

With a few easy steps Registry Mechanic will scan your entire registry for any invalid entries and provides a list of the registry errors found, you can then choose to selectively clean each item or automatically repair them all. For your convenience and protection Registry Mechanic can also make a backup of any repairs made so that you can easily recover any changes if required. Try it free now! Download A Free Trial of Registry Mechanic by PC Tools

Spyware Doctor. Save 20% on this Cloudeight endorsed and recommended product.Spyware Doctor - Save 20% Right Now!

Spyware Doctor is an advanced adware- and spyware-removal utility that detects and cleans thousands of potential Trojan horses, keyloggers, cookies, spy bots, and trackware, spyware, and adware programs and other malware from your PC. The remover tool allows you to remove, ignore, or quarantine identified spyware. It has an option to immunize the system against hundreds of privacy threats and can perform fast detection on Windows start-up to alert you with a list of potential threats. Learn more about and try Spyware Doctor right now - free! If you decide to purchase Spyware Doctor, you must use the special Cloudeight 20% OFF coupon code on this page in order to get the discount! Spyware Doctor is Cloudeight recommended and endorsed and has won numerous industry awards!

Scan your computer and find out if you're infected. The scan is completely free.

Make our Start Page your Home Page   |   Close this Window

The above advertisements are provided by Google. Content of these ads is the responsibility of Google, Inc.