Spyware, Downloads & The Law

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This week we learned that Elliot Spitzer, New York State’s Attorney General, has gone after Intermix, a publicly traded company (AMEX:MIX)— Yahoo! story Spitzer Sues Intermix Over ‘Spyware’— for bundling spyware and other nasties with their free downloads of smileys and screensavers.
Yesterday I visited Download.com and was greeted with a “run once” message that said “DOWNLOAD.COM: NO ADWARE. NO EXCEPTIONS”.
Spyware is not just used by seedy, under-the-radar operations involved in spam and phishing. It is unfortuante that many companies, even publicly traded organizations like Intermix, are using tactics like spyware in their business model.
Let’s see what Spitzer’s fast-paced attack on various industries like mutual funds and insurance will do to the war on spyware.
Is there a fine line between spyware and the cookies, web beacons, web tracking and other tools used to measure, analyze and optimize online marketing?
Meantime, I believe it is imperative that everyone add a good spyware detection and removal application to their arsenal, sitting right beside their virus protection and anti-spam tools.

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