Adware vs. Spyware?

So Gator is now forcing companies who call their product “Spyware” to remove that terminology and call it “Adware.” I am not going to put my opinion down in this medium or try to classify it one way or the other, but is this a new way for companies to justify their software?

C-Net has an article that says the following…

“The distinction between such ‘adware,’ which can report back to its creator with information about the computer user’s surfing habits, so as to allow for supposedly more effective ad serving, and ‘spyware,’ which similarly monitors surfing habits and serves up ads, is sometimes a hazy one.”

So it seems like the only difference here is one serves targeted ads, and one is less targeted?

Gator has recently come under some serious scrutinization because they replace ads that are on common web pages with ads they specifically send you. Meaning, Google might have a vendor that pays for a specific ad to be shown, but instead you get Gator’s ad. Are we crossing some sort of boundry here?

My biggest beef with Gator is that it is generally installed on your computer without your direct knowledge. Yes, the user authorizes its install in SOME cases, but with things like Kazaa and other peer-to-peer networks, their installer will put it in your system without your direct knowledge. These deceit practices just seem to be screaming ethical violations everywhere.

Even worse, what data is being transported back to Gator? How do they maintain it? How do they SECURE it? The fact is, Gator uses YOUR CPU cycles, YOUR network bandwidth, and YOUR disk space to run its operations, generally WITHOUT your knowledge. I can’t begin to consider the numerous implications this posesses for companies whose users have inadvertantly installed the application. Is IP being leaked? What a great opportunity for corporate espionage?

So, while this author will not publish an opinion one way or the other (lets face it folks, neither are “good”), what do you think?

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