My Views on Spyware

I’m sure I’m not the first one to express this view, but I absolutely HATE spyware, I hate the entire idea behind it and the reason it exists and I especially hate having to constantly remove it from every PC I sit down at.

I’m really surprised that more people haven’t revolted against spyware, especially with the amount of frustration it causes for average Joe User when his PC runs ass slow.  I can’t believe that it is still condoned, or legal for that matter, for a software vendor to sneak in 3rd party programs specifically for the purpose of either displaying ads to the user or tracking their Internet browsing for ad purposes.  I realize that there are software developers out there that want to make some money off of their efforts, but that’s why real software companies make you pay for their programs.

Here’s what I think should be done and enforced by some all-seeing eye:

  • If any 3rd party program is being installed along with the main app then it should be required that during the install process one of the dialog boxes be a list of all the extra programs that it is trying to install along with a checkbox to exclude anything that the user does not want.  This is done by some legitimate software companies now, but could definitely be done in more places.
  • No website should automatically install anything on my computer, EVER, without notifying me about it before hand in an easy to read way with an option to skip installation.  I shouldn’t have to have a spyware suite and crazy browser plugins to watch for this.  Also, if a site is found in violation of this rule after written warning their domain name should be seized. 

This may sound a bit extreme to some of you, to others not extreme enough, but here is my reasoning.  We have to eliminate the thinking that because it’s digital it’s not a serious crime, today our lives are more and more dependant on this technology that is hindering itself. 

Take this comparison:  What would you do if you when to Ikea and purchased a coffee table, you put it together and went to bed.  In the morning you walk into your living room and noticed that overnight somebody from Ikea put a hidden camera in your roof.  Of course you’d freak out, anybody would because their completely and blatently invading your personal space.  What would you do if you’re neighbour came into your house while you were at work and painted porno all over your walls?  Of course you would get on the phone with the police and press charges.

I don’t know why this digital world that we live in has to be so different.  For the most part I would actually prefer somebody breaking into my house than breaking into my computer.  My file cabinet has a couple of old cable bills and some school reports in it but my computer has my personal finances, e-mails, photos and tons of other personal stuff.  I do a pretty good job of keeping the crap of my PC by using multiple layers of firewalling, multiple active spyware and virus scanners and by using strong passwords in things like my MS Money software.  Problem is, I’m a Computer Scientist, what about Joe User at home that doesn’t know any better?  Who’s making sure he’s safe?  I know I’m really getting tired of doing it for him.

It’s time the Internet world spoke up and made some changes, I’m amazed to read the millions of articles and posts about spyware and yet nothing substancial has been done to curb it’s growth. 

Let’s do something about it people!

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