Low-hanging Fruit

Jamie sent me this, which reads in part:

“In general when any application asks to install another application, I assume the other application is spyware. But you have to support spyware if you’re going to have free file-sharing applications. Fair’s fair.”

I just wanted to point out that this is rougly akin to, by which I mean “exactly the same as”, arguing that date rape is an unfortunate but necessary consequence of drinking in a nightclub.


  1. kev
    Posted December 7, 2004 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    It’s like anything else, really. The overwhelming majority of people do not appreciate the value of something until they’ve lost it. That said, a large proportion of us have already lost a lot of that privacy, and it doesn’t help that the Canadian government has historically been one of the worst offenders in contributing to that lack of privacy (you just know it’s still out there :) ).

    The software/spyware companies are just trying to get into a very old game. Just look at the credit card companies – they rape you with interest rates, and then make a ton of cash by selling other companies your spending profiles, and up until very recently they were permitted to send personally identifiable information with the aggregate data sets. Nasty stuff, and don’t get me started on Airmiles.

    The thing that really bothered me with the wired article was the fact that the web traffic company used proxied connections to decrypt information between the broswer and the target app. That bothers me, and just to see what certs are presented to a browser from the proxy when you hit a bank or some such tempts me to install the sw on a crappy pc.

    That type of collection really bothers me, because you really can’t justify snooping on the protected info, and I’m curious to see how they pull it off.

    I agree that date rape can be a good analogy, but maybe the problem is that the overwhelming majority of folks only experience the occasional hangover, which is acceptable to them until something worse happens that directly impacts them.

  2. Mike Hoye
    Posted December 7, 2004 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Yeah – re: decrypting, the thing is that done right, that’s supposed to be impossible. In fact, this is precisely why it’s supposed to be impossible, because it was designed with this sort of man-in-the-middle attack in mind. But, really and truly, nobody cares, and they’ll click on anything to get it out of the way.

    The HRDC horizontal database, though, that was a joke – all that information is now a phone call, instead of a few keystrokes, away. Great. I feel much safer, way to go Canadian public. Now, instead of existing and being, possibly, tightly regulated because of its’ size and importance, it’s… it’s whatever it was before. Great.

  3. Melanie
    Posted December 8, 2004 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Hey, at least sometimes they ask first.

  4. Mike Hoye
    Posted December 8, 2004 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Yeah, but the up-front question is “Can I buy you a drink”.

    The “By accepting this drink, you agree to consume any additional chemicals and additives that it may contain, including those that may or may not have been created by the manufacturer of the drink. Furthermore, you also agree that the provider of the beverage will have unrestricted access to any and all orifices of your unconcious body without restriction or exception” part isn’t usually spelled out so clearly.