If a program tracks internet usage patterns, including but not limited to surf destinations, what gets clicked on, and whether or not products are purchased, it is not welcome on my machine, plain and simple.
Unfortunately, my opinion doesn’t matter all that much.
There is a new term being used to define tracking bugs – it is being called “researchware.” According to this piece over at MSNBC.com, researchware differs from spyware in that intent is disclosed up front.
I am not buying it. I refuse to believe that stuffing a tracking bug inside a piece of free anti-virus software and slapping a disclosure on the front of it, like comScore Networks does with its Marketscore product, removes the spyware tainting. And from a quick search, it seems there are a lot of other folks who don’t think so either.
A million people have downloaded the above mentioned “researchware,” cleverly disquised as anti-virus software. What is going to happen to those people’s installs next time the software does a virus definition update? I don’t really know, but I am not sticking it on my machine to find out.