1. Phorm a disorderly queue, please
Phorm, or 121 Media, or Webwise as it is sometimes called in the UK, is the controversial web tool of the day. It's been criticised, complained about, petitioned against, discussed in parliament, and rejected by retailers. Still it won't go away. The UK's Information Commissioner took a good long look at it, and decided that it was something that individuals should 'opt in' to, Amazon.co.uk listened to the warnings of privacy bodies and said 'no thank you' to it, and even more recently Viviane Reding, the European telecoms commissioner, kicked up a right old stink about it. In fact, other than BT, which has admitted to deploying it without end user consent, Phorm is rather phriendless.
2. Hey (Ne)Bu(A)d(dy), can you spare a client?
NebuAd, which has a wholly confusing name, is rather similar to Phorm in a number of ways. Not only is it a behaviour tracking web tool, but it has fallen foul of beady-eyed regulators. Not long after launching, NebuAd had a strong client list, but then the pesky American public and government got involved and, lo, its largest clients did endeth their relationship.
3. 121 Media
121 Media, now reincarnated as Phorm, first caused a huge storm in the UK back in the mid-2000s, when it was described as spyware because of its use of deep packet inspection software. Back in 2004 it was estimated to be on millions of computers, even though the owners knew nothing about it. Still, at least they knew what they did and didn't want to buy thanks to some well-targeted advertising.
4. Not cool!
Coolwebsearch is one of the most controversial spyware tools out, or hidden in, there. Either way you look at it, it doesn't have too many supporters. Its lack of fans may be down to the fact that it sneaks its way onto machines, alters their homepage choices, and bungs out pop-up ads with alarming regularity. Someone point us to the download page!
5. Advantage to whom?
Microsoft is no stranger to controversy - just recall those terrible Seinfeld shoe adverts - but back in 2006 its Windows Genuine Advantage program had the spyware finger pointed at it, presumably because of the way it installed and then busied itself at its own whim. The finger-pointing got so bad that the firm was pushed into releasing a statement explaining that it wasn't. We think the firm did protest just the right amount, actually.
6. Does it look like a crowbar?
Unlike stripy jumpers and bags marked 'swag', Google's Street View software is no burglars charter. At least that's what one of its bosses was forced to say recently. Street View has been met with a lot of controversy, not least because it has caught some people vomiting on its cameras. We say that the UK population should be allowed to vomit on the street in public, if they really feel that they must.
7. See ya later Gator
Once upon a time, when automatic form filling-in tools were not browser standards, Gator's e-wallet and password completion software proved extremely popular for a time and turned up on millions of machines. So what made the firm spin off the business and rename itself as Claria? Ah, negative publicity, and that spyware word again. Why can't people keep their noses out of people putting their noses into other people's business? It's just not right.
8. Secure Computer
Microsoft took Secure Computer to court over its habit of using pop-up notices and emails to 'advise' internet users that their computers were infected with - and this will tickle you - spyware. Occasionally posing as messages from the MSN network, Secure Computer would then offer its own spyware cleaning tool as a solution to the problem. The firm was sued under Washington's anti-spyware regulations, a fact that probably knocked consumer confidence in its $50 spyware solution.
9. Wanna be in Ben's gang?
At least 20 people think that the online card verification tool, Verified by Visa, encourages bad online practice and lulls web users into the idea that they should hand out personal details at the drop of a hat, or to be more precise, pop up of a box. Twenty may not sound like a lot, but one of them is Ben Laurie - a founding director of The Apache Software Foundation, and a core team member of OpenSSL. That makes him a fairly large tech cheese, eDam for example.
10. Bottom of the pops
In 2005 Sony BMG started placing anti-piracy software on its music CDs. Sadly for the firm, the tool was accused of behaving like a virus and having spyware-like features. As a result Sony BMG was the subject of a number of court cases, including one brought by digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Personally, we didn't have a problem with it; after all, the fewer people that are able to copy and share some of its products - which include The Essential Celine Dion - the better.
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