Google has posted a list of proposed best-practices for Internet software, such as toolbars, which aims at separating spyware from other apps. One of the big problems with the spyware fight is that the legal theories employed (as in the lawsuits against Gator) often have the potential to break the Internet in important ways. For example, the plaintiffs in Gator say that Gator violates their copyright in their webpages by putting new windows onscreen when they're loaded with competitors' info (i.e., you load up www.deliveryservice1.com and a window pops up for deliveryservice2.com). If a court agrees with this theory, it means that the org responsible for the contents of the foremost window in your browser get to control all the other windows
on your screen -- that you violate their copyright if you install, say, a price-comparator that loads Amazon's comparable sell-pages when you bring up a bn.com page so that you can check who's cheapest.
Google's principles seem, to me, to be much more thoughtful and respectful of the Internet and its users. They revolve around key notions in consumer protection: clarity, honesty, and easy opt-out. Not committing fraud, IOW.
Applications that affect or change your user experience should make clear they are the reason for those changes. For example, if an application opens a window, that window should identify the application responsible for it. Applications should not intentionally obscure themselves under multiple or confusing names. You should be given means to control the application in a straightforward manner, such as by clicking on visible elements generated by the application. If an application shows you ads, it should clearly mark them as advertising and inform you that they originate from that application. If an application makes a change designed to affect the user experience of other applications (such as setting your home page) then those changes should be made clear to you.
At The Malware Musuem you can enjoy the experience of DOS-era viruses, trojans and other digital beasties without any of the risk. Many of them manifested as wild graphical tricks and other spectacular coding feats, distracting you as they formatted hard drives or corrupted files. The Malware Museum is a collection of malware programs, usually […]
Neglected public payphones in New York City are being turned into “GuyFi” stations: a place where one can rub one out for the sake of “stress relief.” Annalee Newitz reports on the wank booths from a company named “Hot Octopus”… The company reported that at least 100 men used the booth on its opening day […]
You’d be forgiven for thinking the videocassette format long-dead, but it turns out that Betamax is still around. Sony is finally going to withdraw tapes from sale, bringing a 40-year story to an end. The last recorders were sold in 2002. ベータビデオカセットおよびマイクロMVカセットテープ出荷終了のお知らせ [Sony; via The Verge]
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