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Nagware promotes censorware

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The marketing geniuses at Belkin, the consumer networking vendor, have dreamed up a new form of spam - ads served to your desktop, by way of its wireless router.

Uh Clem. a former Belkin wireless router user, was perplexed to find machines on his network redirected to an ad for Belkin's new parental control system, following a software update.

Clem initially thought that the browser setting on the machine he downloaded the updated software had been changed. But when other machines displayed the same behaviour he realised his router was to blame.

The router would grab a random HTTP connection every eight hours and redirect it to Belkin’s (push) advertised web page.

"It seems the router now supports a parental control and the market droids at Belkin got the bright idea of equipping the router with intrusive nagware," writes Uh Clem. "Of course, I have this strange notion that routers should pass data unmolested by marketeers!"

There is an opt-out link on the advertised page but this failed to appease Clem who, not unreasonably, objects to having to "opt-out from commercials from my router". Because of the ads, he's decided not to buy Belkin products again.

In response criticism, a Belkin product manager came forward this week to confirm the behaviour was designed into the products as a way to make it easier for consumers to sign up to a free trial of its parental control software. Belkin's Eric Deming is keen to allay concerns about the technique which have produced sharp criticism of the company on the news.admin.net-abuse.email newsgroup.

"We don't have the ability to spam you at a later time if you select "No Thanks" or turn off the reminder manually," Deming writes. "I know this feature might be misunderstood and might PO some people. I know the manual could do a better job explaining it. These are all things that we at Belkin are working to remedy." ®

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