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Fair criticism, or libel and theft?
October 7th 2000, 23:14 CEST by andy

We've covered so-called "spyware" software here before, in the Ground Control To Peeping Tom thread. Another spyware story recently came to light, but with much more controversial overtones, as the company involved has apparently used libel and copyright laws to silence one customer's security complaints.

There's a full rundown of what has happened, as well as interviews with the customer and a representative of the company, in an article on my own site: Fair criticism, or libel and theft?

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Home » Topic: Fair criticism, or libel and theft?

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#1 by "Ken 'Syco' Meyers"
2000-10-07 23:21:49
ken@hardnews.org http://www.hardnews.org
First
Syco
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#2 by "Ken 'Syco' Meyers"
2000-10-07 23:22:33
ken@hardnews.org http://www.hardnews.org
Always seen you assholes do it, wanted to be a part of the club.
Syco
www.hardnews.org
---------------
Filling in for Voodoo Extreme one p1mp comment at a time
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#3 by "Dethstryk"
2000-10-07 23:35:44
dethstryk@damagegaming.com http://www.damagegaming.com/
Well written, Andy. Bravo. :)


--
Dethstryk
#4 by "szcx"
2000-10-07 23:48:06
congratulations, ken.  now you're one of those assholes too.  is it everything you hoped it would be?
#5 by "flamethrower"
2000-10-07 23:49:53
flamethrower@barrysworld.com http://flamethrower.evilavatar.com
<b>#4</b> "szcx"

<QUOTE>congratulations, ken. now you're one of those assholes too. is it everything you hoped it would be?
</QUOTE>

Yeah, well, at least he's not a cunt, szcx.  ;)

===

Top work, Andy.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#6 by "Dethstryk"
2000-10-07 23:52:16
dethstryk@damagegaming.com http://www.damagegaming.com/
My high school took an anonymous survey of 87% of the student body, which was asking questions about drug use and the like.

They tallied up the stats, and mailed letters to everyone's parents about the results (58% of the student body have tried drugs/alchol, as well as miscellaneous other crap) and it frankly pisses me off.

Anyone have any suggestions on something I could, and should, do?


--
Dethstryk
#7 by "Timdog"
2000-10-08 00:10:03
thetimdog@hotmail.com
Dethstryk,

Don't you know not to answer those damn things honestly. :)

What I'd do if I were you is pass it off as a joke (maybe a crack joke)

Anyway, I was just posting to see my IP address with my shiny new DSL line :)

--The Timdog<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#8 by "szcx"
2000-10-08 00:15:39
Just a couple of observations from the interview...

<quote>The login name is available from the GetUserName Win32 API function.</quote>

So what he's saying is that
information "voluntarily" supplied to anything installed on the OS is fair game.  The username is accessible via the Win32 API, therefore it's okay to retrieve it.  By that logic, it's fine for Conducent to take anything it likes from the registry, since it's accessible via RegOpenKeyEx() and RegQueryValueEx().

<quote>We have no access to those cookies and we are not in control of whether or not the cookies are sent from the server.</quote>

That's interesting.  The WinInet part of the Win32 SDK provides a couple of functions, InternetGetCookie() and InternetSetCookie().  Let's take a look at the remarks for InternetGetCookie();

<i><b>InternetGetCookie</b> does not require a call to InternetOpen. InternetGetCookie checks in the windows\cookies directory for persistent cookies that have an expiration date set sometime in the future.
<b>InternetGetCookie</b> also searches memory for any session cookies (cookies that do not have an expiration date) that were created in the same process by InternetSetCookie, since these cookies are not written to any files. Rules for creating cookie files are internal to Win32 Internet functions and might change in the future.</i>

If they were to use the InternetOpenUrl() to retrieve the advertisment to display locally int he IWebBrowser2 control, they could use the INTERNET_FLAG_NO_COOKIES flag.  Guess what that does?  Let's take a look at the documentation...

<i><b>INTERNET_FLAG_NO_COOKIES</b>
Does not automatically add cookie headers to requests, and does not automatically add returned cookies to the cookie database. This flag can be used by HttpOpenRequest and InternetOpenUrl (for HTTP requests).
</i>

<quote>Static IP addresses identify a computer, not an individual, that's the point to IP addresses</quote>

That's not strictly true, I mean, they've got the individual's name thanks to GetUserName() and you've got the IP address... so now anytime that IP hits a website under Conducent's influence, that person is identified.
#9 by "Apache"
2000-10-08 00:41:57
apache@stomped.com http://unreal.stomped.com
good article, send it into slashdot and put morn in the hole for about $5000 ;)
#10 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-10-08 00:42:41
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net
Post <b>#8</b> by szcx:
<QUOTE><i>So what he's saying is that
information "voluntarily" supplied to anything installed on the OS is fair game. The username is accessible via the Win32 API, therefore it's okay to retrieve it. By that logic, it's fine for Conducent to take anything it likes from the registry, since it's accessible via RegOpenKeyEx() and RegQueryValueEx().
</i></QUOTE>

Seems strange to me too. Using "just" Win32 API functions you can gather as much information about computer and it's owner as you can if you sit in front of the keyboard of that computer.

I guess what he was trying to say was that this information is not being sent anywhere and is merely used to create a local folder to store user's data... The function name was there to "explain" that their program is not using "illegal" methods to gather that data - it sounds like a "look we use a legal function supplied by MS so we are not doing anything wrong" excuse to me.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#11 by "szcx"
2000-10-08 00:48:36
PiRaMidA:

Yeah, that's what it sounds like to me as well.  I'm amused by his comment that the login name "coincidentally happens" to be the users real name.  Win9x/ME and Win2K Professional <i>default</i> to the registration name for the login.
#12 by "ramtin"
2000-10-08 01:13:58
http://Yo yo yo yo yo yo
Deathstryk,  you are only in high school?  That's interesting.  Well, I challenge you all to come forward and reveal your own ages to this messageboard.  I think it would be very telling about our intellectual populace.
#13 by "RzE"
2000-10-08 01:29:42
rze@counter-strike.net http://csnation.counter-strike.net
Good 1st and 2nd post Ken Syco Meyers, you're a rebel.

Now go update duke central.
#14 by "Dethstryk"
2000-10-08 01:31:08
dethstryk@damagegaming.com http://www.damagegaming.com/
<b>ramtin wrote in post #12:</b>
<quote>Deathstryk, you are only in high school? That's interesting. Well, I challenge you all to come forward and reveal your own ages to this messageboard. I think it would be very telling about our intellectual populace. </quote>
I'm a senior in high school, if that means anything. And really, I hope you aren't trying to infer that age has something to do with intelligence.

Intelligence and wisdom are two very different things.


--
Dethstryk
#15 by "flamethrower"
2000-10-08 02:58:29
flamethrower@barrysworld.com http://flamethrower.evilavatar.com
<b>#14</b> "Dethstryk"

<QUOTE>Intelligence and wisdom are two very different things. </QUOTE>

I like to think I have both in abundance. Do I win a peanut?
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#16 by "warmonger"
2000-10-08 03:50:14
warmonger87@hotmail.com
For the record: Just turned 16 a couple weeks ago, junior in high school.

Good to hear bout your DSL, Timdog.

Apache: When the hell is VE gonna get back up? I'm completely lost on gaming news without you guys!<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#17 by "Apache"
2000-10-08 03:52:31
apache@stomped.com http://unreal.stomped.com
warmonger wrote:
<quote>Apache: When the hell is VE gonna get back up? I'm completely lost on gaming news without you guys! </quote>

The annoucement of who we are going with will be revealed Monday, then we need about 36 hours to get the new servers up and running again, so to be safe say Wends...
#18 by "VeeSPIKE"
2000-10-08 05:03:58
appliedavoidanc.dont.fucking.spam.me@triton.net
<b>#17</b> "Apache" wrote this stuff"
<QUOTE>
The annoucement of who we are going with will be revealed Monday, then we need about 36 hours to get the new servers up and running again, so to be safe say Wends... </QUOTE>

So why don't you get connected first and THEN tell everybody where you are? I mean, that would make more sense to me. <I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#19 by "None-1a(on other system)"
2000-10-08 06:50:12
none1a@home.com http://www.geocities.com/none-1a
<b>#10</b> "PiRaMidA" wrote...
<QUOTE>Seems strange to me too. Using "just" Win32 API functions you can gather as much information about computer and it's owner as you can if you sit in front of the keyboard of that computer. </QUOTE>

Seems odd to me that some one that would freak over this would enter their name when installing windows, it's not exactly nessicary in the first place.

Also does anyone else think id be a really stupid idea to try to track most people using the IP when there are other numbers (like say the mac address) that can be identified even if the person has a dynamic IP?


Frankly what we need to be consered about more with these things isn't the "spying" potinetal but the poor programing and adding more things for windows to load for many of these ad programs. I've managed to build a rock solid windows machine I don't need to POSes being installed and mesing that up.

O I also want to say this, with IE tied in with the OS it is possible to for any software to display ads from a web network and handle every thing with out resorting to using these dll setups (just look at DAP and how it handles this).<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#20 by "BarneyQue"
2000-10-08 06:53:44
32
#21 by "Warren Marshall"
2000-10-08 09:02:32
warren@epicgames.com http://www.epicgames.com
I'm an old man.  30.  :)

--

Warren Marshall - Professional Nuisance<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#22 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-10-08 09:19:22
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net
a/s/l? umm.. male, 26, russia. thank you.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#23 by "Glock"
2000-10-08 09:21:44
glock17@tampabay.rr.com
18, Male, Florida.  Training to be a computer programmer.  Learning Visual Basic and C++, and taking a look at UnrealScript. :)
#24 by "Chet"
2000-10-08 10:16:13
chet@oldmanmurray.com
Yay! More power to the usenet bitches.

What a mistargeted article. Why the attack Gipsy?  Why not Conducent?

These guys wrote software- and I know this is so ugly to say... they wanted to make money for the software they wrote.  They picked a 3rd party advertising solution and stuck it in their software.  The control did not quite work as advertised.

There is not one piece of software released today that does not have some third party control in it.  As a developer you take the docs for face value - stick it in - if it works as advertised you move on.  

Yay to knee jerk reactions!!!  yay!!!  I hate Microsoft - I hate Netscape - I hate anyone who does anything!   Everything is bad -drive gypsy out of business!!!  YAY!!!!!

Tell you what, I have a knee jerk reaction and its attached to my foot and it would like to start kicking some of you in the ass.  

The good die young,
I am going to live forever.

Chet
#25 by "Charlie Wiederhold"
2000-10-08 11:55:14
charliew@3drealms.com
15 s/w/f
#26 by "Chris Johnson"
2000-10-08 12:09:14
No no no Charlie.

It's supposed to be YOUR stats, not what you go cruising the High Schools for... ;)
#27 by "Charlie Wiederhold"
2000-10-08 12:13:57
charliew@3drealms.com
Damnit. I ALWAYS make that mistake.

15 s/w/m
#28 by "Lowtax"
2000-10-08 12:26:44
lowtax@somethingawful.com http://www.somethingawful.com
Charlie's moved up to high schools now?  I thought Charlie just looked for the girls he could teach both a sex ed and alphabet lesson to.

-Lowtax
#29 by "bagofmice"
2000-10-08 12:28:37
rcastle@microsoft.com
12, japan, female
!
#30 by "Charlie Wiederhold"
2000-10-08 12:32:24
charliew@3drealms.com
My reputation is being tarnished! Help Help! I'm being repressed!

Oh wait, it's my reputation that is causing this. hmmm

Hey bago... I've misjudged you all along!
#31 by "Charlie Wiederhold"
2000-10-08 12:35:52
charliew@3drealms.com
Time for me to go get some sleep finally before I turn this ugly as I have a habit of doing. We don't need any #3drealms IRC chat style conversations going on in PC. ;)
#32 by "bagofmice"
2000-10-08 12:49:29
rcastle@microsoft.com
Sweet dreams are made of these....


/me bends over..
#33 by "Charlie Wiederhold"
2000-10-08 13:08:50
charliew@3drealms.com
Oh thanks a lot! That's just great. Now everytime I hear that song an image of bago bending over is going to pop up in my head.

Mommy, make the bad man go away!

----

"So Mr. Wiederhold. When did this recurring nightmare begin?"

"Well you see doctor, it was one late night in October after a long stint of being awake... and bagofmice said..."

"Wait? A Bag Of Mice spoke to you?"

"No. bagofmice said.."

"I... see... ummm... our friendly nurse here has a pretty white jacket she would like you to put on. It's the latest fashion, you'll like it, I swear."
#34 by "bagofmice"
2000-10-08 13:32:21
rcastle@microsoft.com
To sleep to slumber, Wether is nobler to suffer the slings and posts of a crapper, or to go to bed / get away from the f#$^%#*ing computer on a saturday night...
#35 by "Crusader"
2000-10-08 13:33:21
crusader@linuxgames.com http://www.linuxgames.com
<quote>
Sweet dreams are made of these....


/me bends over..
</quote>
When you said I should go out for a good cigar, steak and martini event, that's not what I thought you meant D:
#36 by "Crusader"
2000-10-08 13:34:01
crusader@linuxgames.com http://www.linuxgames.com
<quote>
To sleep to slumber, Wether is nobler to suffer the slings and posts of a crapper, or to go to bed / get away from the f#$^%#*ing computer on a saturday night...
</quote>
Hate to break it to you Rando, but its Sunday morning.
#37 by "bagofmice"
2000-10-08 13:47:17
rcastle@microsoft.com
Ah screw you . It's not the next day till the sun rises and I have to crawl back into my cave.
#38 by "Milamber"
2000-10-08 15:56:28
milamber@amoeba.com.au http://www.wagz.net
Nice article if I remember correctly, there's a little freeware program you can grab that goes through your system and removes all the stuff like that, although it's interesting to note that certain programs (the trial version of CuteFTP and GoZilla) don't work without their targeted ad gizmo.

Oh and for the record, 18 in Australia, but I guess you gathered that from my Ip
#39 by "mcgrew"
2000-10-08 20:56:18
mcgrew@famvid.com http://theFragfest.com
Age? Last estimate was fifteen billion, but the astrophysicysts aren't done yet.
Oh, you mean the EARTH, tha'ts only about four billion.
#40 by "G-Man"
2000-10-08 21:58:22
jonmars@shiftlock.org http://www.shiftlock.org
Ah why not...

22/Male/Connecticut, USA

At least Charlie is honest about his passions.

 - [g.man]<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#41 by "Foogla"
2000-10-08 23:54:47
Foogla@somethingawful.com
25/m/Hamburg, Germany

And g.man you sound at least 20 years older. ;)
#42 by "warmonger"
2000-10-09 03:16:33
warmonger87@hotmail.com
So, I take it I'm the youngest one here then?

Ooh! I just had a great idea! How about we <b>all</b> list our sexual preferences like Charlie did?<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#43 by "Ken 'Syco' Meyers"
2000-10-09 05:00:36
ken@hardnews.org http://www.hardnews.org
szcx said:
congratulations, ken. now you're one of those assholes too. is it everything you hoped it would be?



Yes, it's fun to be an unopiniated bitch to the ways of the forum.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#44 by "[KAG]formerly known as Seth"
2000-10-09 11:26:50
d_k_denz@hotmail.com http://www.aelk.org
24/m/Karlsruhe,Germany(born in Luxembourg though)<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#45 by "Prfbrain"
2000-10-09 15:26:29
brain@arn.net
Here's one program for removing that crap, but as was stated above it does "break" some programs when you remove the spyware crap. <a href="http://www.lavasoft.de/binary/aaw_36.zip">Spyware Remover</a><I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#46 by "Sgt Hulka"
2000-10-09 17:08:28
Sgt_Hulka@Hulka.com http://www.hulka.com
33 (in earth years) / M / Indianapolis, Indiana, USA (Born on X12-Alpha-Sector 7 though, but please keep that to yourself)<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#47 by "Milamber"
2000-10-09 17:43:05
milamber@amoeba.com.au http://www.wagz.net
<quote>(Born on X12-Alpha-Sector 7 though, but please keep that to yourself)</quote>

Brother! You dare violate the pact!
#48 by "PainKilleR-[CE]"
2000-10-09 18:05:41
painkiller@planetfortress.com http://www.planetfortress.com/tftech/
m/22/San Diego as if it matters ;

Anyway, I think there's more of a story in Gipsy Media's methods of handling the situation than them using some crappy ad spyware. Then again, there's not much proof either way since most of the information has conveniently disappeared via thread deletions (not that that means much of anything in itself, I've deleted plenty of message board posts in my time as well). It just seems that Gipsy Media's spending a lot of time avoiding the questions and trying to keep from looking bad, and it's blowing up in their faces.

-PainKilleR-[CE]
#49 by "^mortis^"
2000-10-09 18:34:31
mortis@goddamnindependent.com http://www.goddamnindependent.com
spyware removal?  http://www.grc.com/default.htm
Gibson's 'Shields Up' page is the first thing i send to anyone i know who gets a cable/DSL connection.  always fun to see their reactions.

A/S/L?  
of consent/yes/here


^M^
#50 by "None-1a"
2000-10-09 18:43:25
none1a@home.com http://www.geocities.com/none-1a/
<b>#49</b> "^mortis^" wrote...
<QUOTE>spyware removal? http://www.grc.com/default.htm
Gibson's 'Shields Up' page is the first thing i send to anyone i know who gets a cable/DSL connection. always fun to see their reactions. </QUOTE>

Try the scan at www.dslreports.com, you have to register at the site and need to know how to use tellnet bu the report covers a lot more then 'Shields Up' does.

Oddly I managed to score perfict on the 'Shields Up' test and a -1 (perfict score is 0) on the dslreport test. It's also kind of cool since at dslreports you can see how others are scoreing and laugh your ass off at them.
--
None-1a.

O forget it.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
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