The Spyware Problem Web surfers may feel anonymous as they use the Internet, but that feeling isn’t always justified. IP addresses, cookies, site log-in procedures, and credit card purchases all help track how often users visit a site and what pages they view. Some companies go further. Some free screensaver software and peer-to-peer file sharing come with “spyware” embedded within their applications. Once loaded, these applications run in the background. What they actually track depends on the specific software. To stay on the “right side” of U.S. law, these companies outline their software’s functions in general terms and include this information in the small print within their end-user licensing agreement (EULA) and/or privacy policy. In fact, these agreements may even include a stipulation that users not disable any part of their software as a condition for free use. Because most users don’t read these policies, they have no idea what privacy rights they may have given up. They indeed get their free file-sharing program or screen saver, but they may be getting a lot more. Some spyware programs even remain on hard drives and stay active after users have uninstalled their “free” software.
a. Use a search engine to search for “spyware,” “spyware removal,” “adware,” or other related terms. Prepare a one-page summary of your results. Include URLs for online sources.
b. Select three of your favorite Web sites and print out their privacy policies. What do they share in common? How do they differ?
c. Write your own Web site privacy policy, striking a balance between customer and business needs.

  • CreatedDecember 31, 2012
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