Aureate Spyware defeated with utility
"Curbing the wave of hysteria"
Those appalled by Aureate Media's advertising tactics may now download a small utility programme which will automatically eliminate every trace of it from their Windows registry. The utility is called "Opt Out" by its creator Steve Gibson, who has posted it on a Web site of that name here. The utility is small and runs very quickly; in a test, it scanned our registry in roughly ten seconds, and found nothing. As we reported in earlier coverage, the Aureate Spyware is not malicious, nor does it send detailed user information back to the company, as the privacy hysterics claimed when the story first broke. Perhaps the name "Spyware", which Gibson appears to have coined when he first became concerned about the software, added fuel to the flames. "My use of the term "Spyware" does not reflect my knowledge that any data is being sent from a machine -- in the case of Aureate, I have no knowledge that any ever has -- and I never said, nor meant to imply, that any was," Gibson says. The software does, however, collect non-identifiable user information, and it does install its advertising features in the background. The background installation certainly is a questionable practice; but personally-identifiable information has never been collected by any Aureate products, which are free to users because they are supported by advertising, just as free ISPs are. "The Aureate system does record and 'phone home' about the user's use of Aureate's ad-enabled applications, but I have no knowledge of it doing anything more," Gibson says. And Gibson approves of advertising supported software. His chief objection -- and we agree it is a fair one -- is that Aureate did a very poor job of notifying users. "I like the idea of advertising-supported software," Gibson says. "I believe that it fills a need in the industry alongside free eMail, Web, and Internet access. It 'makes sense' to me. So I would NOT want to see Aureate/Radiate, any other company, or the whole idea becoming needlessly damaged because people presumed the worst." But of course, assuming the worst is precisely what the majority of Internet trolls live for, and we find it hard to believe that someone as Net-savvy as Gibson would fail to anticipate the overblown flap which his original inquiries initiated. Aureate has since changed its name to "Radiate", perhaps in an effort to shed its negative image. Its Web site is located here. ®
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