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.
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".
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?
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.
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
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?
I want to ask you right now: How many times have 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.
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
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.
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