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Spyware Spitzer's Next Big Thing?

Recently I posted on the fact that New York State Attorney General Elliott Spitzer had gone after Intermix, a public company alleged to be using spyware in their marketing efforts (Spyware, Downloads & the Law). Now, as many have thought, it seems that may be just the beginning. In an Associated Press (AP) article today (Will Spyware Be Spitzer’s Next Big Thing?) it seems Spitzer and his staff are determining when, and how, to be most effective…just like they have with mutual fund dealers and insurers. Maybe it’s just about getting everyone to agree what constitutes adware, spyware and malware? That would be a good thing!

bq. “We strongly support efforts to clean up spyware and rid the Internet of malicious software,” said Daniel Todd of 180 Solutions, a major adware company. “As a company that is providing free software and products to consumers, we think that working with technology experts, legal scholars, researchers and anti-spyware companies to establish such standards is a top priority.”
In the AP article it was noted:
bq. “Some repair shops blame spyware, particularly the subset of ad-delivery programs called adware, for more than half the trouble they’re seeing.” IT went on to say that one study found spyware on the computers of 80 percent of participants.”
Maybe Spitzer’s actions have a lot to do with his reported drive for the 2008 Presidential elections; address concerns of consumers, make the tough (for business) but popular (for consumers) decisions. Still, it would be good for all legitimate marketers to have a standard set of definitions of what constitutes spyware. Many legitimate permission marketers use technologies that are not much different from what experts classify as spyware. Maybe it’s about how you use the technology.
What do you think? Is there a fine line between spyware and legitimate tracking of the activity of permission-based relationships? Where do you see this going?

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