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Digsby IM Client Quietly Installs Badware

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the pushing-the-envelope-and-the-bounds-of-good-taste dept.

Privacy 259

An anonymous reader writes "IM company Digsby has quietly included malware in an update to their client software that utilizes users' computing power and bandwidth while idle for a quick buck. When questioned, developers at Digsby claim that they have done no wrong and that users should not complain because the client software is 'free.'" The money-making distributed computing software is in addition to six "crapware" apps that users must refuse during installation. The terms of service that no one ever reads does describe the CPU- and bandwidth-robbing moneymaker, and its off switch is located behind the "Support Digsby" menu item.

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259 comments

Nuisance of free software (0, Troll)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066311)

From the article:

Summary: Stick with Open Source

The only way you are definitely going to avoid greedy software developers exploiting you is to stick with open source, make sure to donate to your favorite open source projects, and stop installing software with bundled crapware.

Did we already forget that Ubuntu also installed such and without consent [slashdot.org] (and Linux Mint) - here you atleast have the change to disallow installing it.

There has been countless numbers of open source projects that also do this. Just because it's open source it doesn't mean you're safe from such tactics - it just means the source is open. You can check the source and remove those parts, but not many of us do so.

This is actually more the nuisance of free software. If you've paid for your software, you can usually except that they wont fuck you over with that crap. It's more like the price you pay for using free ad supported software, because if they develop it professionally they also have to get the money somewhere.

And also from the article Digsby's response:

Update: Disgsby responds [digsby.com], saying they're pushing out a new build today with more transparency about the research module.

Re:Nuisance of free software (4, Informative)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066419)

Again, Ubuntu didn't do anything wrong. They just changed the default "new tab" page from about:blank to the Ubuntu-themed Google search page that's already the default home page. They log usage of their web search service, like everyone else.

Also paying for software doesn't protect you from crapware. Just because they have less incentive to include that stuff doesn't mean they don't.

Re:Nuisance of free software (5, Interesting)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066505)

Agreed, Digsby on the other hand is utilizing what should be idle horsepower. While this may seem innocuous since it is not being used by other stuff, it does not come without cost.

I have a computer tuned to speedstep down and use less power when idled. That means I spend less money per month to run that system. Power costs money, so in effect, Digsby is costing you money by doing this. Granted this may only be a fraction of a cent, multiplied by a few people monthly...well I'm sure you all saw the movie.

IT IS A BIG DEAL.

Re:Nuisance of free software (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29066999)

This can add up to much more than a fraction of a cent per person. Comparing electric bills with BOINC stuff running, and without, showed a difference of over $100.

Re:Nuisance of free software (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29067035)

Give me a break! You can turn the stupid "feature" off. Not a big deal.

Re:Nuisance of free software (1, Flamebait)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066551)

Again, Digsby didn't do anything wrong. They just changed the default "install options" and to use computer's idle resources, like everyone else.

Also not paying for software doesn't protect you from crapware. Just because they have more incentive to include that stuff doesn't mean they don't.

Sarcasm aside, I think what is "right" or "wrong" would have to be defined here. Is it wrong to use a computer's "resources" when it is "idle?" I suppose most would react and say "YES!" ... at least, it is unethical without prior consent ("Do you want to ..." during install). At least there's a way to turn it off.

GP was correct though. Open source just means the source is open. It doesn't mean the developers are any more ethical.

Re:Nuisance of free software (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067477)

There's no need to pull ancient ethics philosophy debate into this discussion. We all know very well what we consider bad practices in a tech context.

Re:Nuisance of free software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29067511)

Is it wrong to use a computer's "resources" when it is "idle?"

Hrm, makes me wonder if the CEO would mind if I used their BMWs, Bentleys or Ferraris while the developers are sleeping?

Re:Nuisance of free software (3, Informative)

marc.andrysco (1173073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066465)

Did we already forget that Ubuntu also installed such and without consent [slashdot.org] (and Linux Mint) - here you atleast have the change to disallow installing it.

As someone mentioned here [slashdot.org], it's not alarming as you make it seem. It's only in the alpha version and not meant for the release version. Granted, I would have liked them to be a bit more forward about it, I'm not terribly upset.

Re:Nuisance of free software (5, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066473)

However, open source means that if enough people complain, someone is going to release a fork of it removing those "features", maintain compatibility for patches, and end up with a better product. For example, Chrome had some annoyances, for one its privacy was questionable at best and it had no adblocker, but since Chrome had an open source project (Chromium) developers were able to fork that and make SRWare Iron ( http://www.srware.net/en/software_srware_iron.php [srware.net] ) which removes these privacy issues and adds in an adblocker. Forks are a natural part of software development and occasionally are forked to prove a point to the often stubborn developers, after the fork gets popular usually the developer relents and adds in or removes the offending code and the fork ceases to exist.

Re:Nuisance of free software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29066529)

lets see, required to sign up for account to use service, they send out bullshit notices like 'vote for digsby in x poll' and promoting sites that have nothing to do with digsby, required syncing with their servers that you cannot turn off, auto updates that you cannot turn off... all this and crapware included? yup thems some trustworthy devs

sad thing is this has been going on for over half a year and only now the masses are informed?

Re:Nuisance of free software (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066627)

If you've paid for your software, you can usually [expect] that they wont fuck you over with that crap

So why are there ads in some PC games that cost over fifty bucks to buy?

Re:Nuisance of free software (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066961)

So why are there ads in some PC games that cost over fifty bucks to buy?

Because otherwise, they'd be a hundred bucks. Imagine your cable TV bill if all the basic channels were ad-free like Showtime.

Re:Nuisance of free software (5, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067057)

Bullshit, they'd cost the same as they ever did except they figured out they could add ads for just about nothing and increase their profit margins even more.

If you really believe that in-game advertisements subsidize the cost of games then you really are ignorant.

Re:Nuisance of free software (1, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067153)

And they were right. They could add ads. And they did. And likely increased their profit. I don't see the problem here, really... it's up to them to decide whether or not they can sell ads. It's up to game players whether or not it's worth $50 to them or not. If the gaming community is willing to pay $50, I don't honestly see why they can't charge $50.

Re:Nuisance of free software (4, Insightful)

qoncept (599709) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067803)

Unless you've done the market research, studied the budgets of the developers, guaged the economy, researched the public willingness to buy games that have ads, and considered inflation and any number of other factors, your opinion is worth about as much as anyone else's. Acting like it's so blatantly obvious that your opinion is better than his doesn't put you in a very good light.

Also OSS doesn't really guarantee anything (0, Troll)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066873)

Yes, it does mean that if your program does something evil, someone else is free to modify the code so that it doesn't do that and redistribute it. However that requires that someone who cares notices, and then takes the time to do so. Not always the case. Also, when it comes to installers, you don't need the source. If an app is bundling crapware in the installer, you could very well grab it, and make a new install package that doesn't have the crapware. The only time you need source is if the app itself has crapware functionality in it.

As for an example of OSS bundling crapware, have a look at PDF creator. It's a great free alternative to the Adobe distiller. However, it does try to install the Yahoo toolbar, as so many things do these days. Now the Yahoo toolbar is tame on the crapware scale, but I'd say it still counts, especially since they try to sneak it in with every app they can.

Ok well nothing is stopping me from grabbing the source and making a new distro of PDF creator... But I haven't, and I'm not going to. I just don't care enough. Seems nobody else does either.

So really, OSS isn't going to save you. Ultimately, you just have to use companies that don't do shit like this, and out companies that do. Public pressure (and public knowledge) is the only real way to deal with it.

Re:Nuisance of free software (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066881)

Unfortunately, paying for software protects you from "that crap" to roughly the same degree that paying for cable protects you from ads, or paying for DVDs protects you from involuntary trailers...

Re:Nuisance of free software (1)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066971)

There has been countless numbers of open source projects that also do this. Just because it's open source it doesn't mean you're safe from such tactics - it just means the source is open. You can check the source and remove those parts, but not many of us do so.

To extend this, I'm going to take a wild leap of faith and assume the summary is correct when it states:

The terms of service that no one ever reads does describe the CPU- and bandwidth-robbing moneymaker

I'd ask, then, what are you (the end user) going to read? If you aren't willing to read the TOS, are you really that likely to peruse through the source code of an application just because you happen to have it available?

Re:Nuisance of free software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29067061)

countless numbers of open source projects that also do this

Countless? Then name at least ten such projects and provide links to evidence.

Re:Nuisance of free software (1)

Vu1turEMaN (1270774) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067113)

Ubuntu's meant shit, and LinuxMint just changes your search pages.

Get over it. Move on.

This Digsby one is where your fight should be.

Re:Nuisance of free software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29067297)

You must of missed the memo, "Multi-search" has been ditched. https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/firefox-3.5/+bug/402767/comments/91

Re:Nuisance of free software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29067589)

"There has been countless numbers of open source projects that also do this."

Although I have no problem believing such a thing is possible, I have yet to encounter an open source product with embedded spyware. "Countless" is an exaggeration IMHO. Freeware? Sure. In fact, if your primary goal is to deliver a payload of malware, free is the way to do it. The desire to hide the malware usually discourages the open source option, since it would be so easy to fork the project without the malware.

Sometimes I wonder if some of the freeware/malware products are simply hijacked versions of open source products, disguised to look different and distributed without the source.

For many applications, you can pay a range of prices for commercial products or perhaps $0, with or without open source. Sometimes paying a high price helps, but there are no guarantees. After all, the people who sell software have investors who are seeking to "optimize" profits. Corporate finance can be a "reality distortion field" where ethics can commingle with a parallel universe. Malware is an equal opportunity offender.

You get what you pay for... and then some more. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29066349)

It's not free if it's not open source.

Re:You get what you pay for... and then some more. (-1, Troll)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066601)

Hey guess what, troll, I wrote some software for the users of a website that allows them to write content offline and there's no way in hell I'm letting them see the source code. It's 100% free with no ads or any way for me to make any money off it. No ways to even donate money to me, UNLIKE MOST OPEN SOURCE SOLUTIONS. So I guess mine's more free and not open source. There really are people out there who write software and give it away for free with no strings attached without any need to release the source. If you don't have a reason to, why do it? If you don't need anyone else to help with it, why put the source code out there for something you yourself wrote? That's just asking someone to steal code.
Since I know someone's going to ask, nobody's seeing my source because:
The website users are a bunch of copyrighted content stealing jackasses so someone would definitely steal the code and recompile it differently
I have hidden code in it to kill switch the software for users I don't like and more hidden code that detects their username from their internet cache and bans them from ever using my software again if they're already on my bad list. Now before you go all "OMG MALWARE" on me, these people are unbelievable. Why would I let people who send me PMs that are just swear word laden rants use my software? Or people that have been caught stealing content from me on the site and haven't gotten banned for it? Or people who purposely rated all my content lower because they're assholes? Or people that threatened to kill me because I'm a moderator and deleted a bunch of their rule-breaking content? So yeah, if I release the code with the hard wired usernames on the banlist, that'd go over real well.
And most importantly, I don't want anyone else working on it. It's relatively simple and I can finish it myself without anyone else's crappy code having to be used. Unlike projects like Open Office, I don't release my finished product until it's perfect and that wouldn't happen if two people are writing code independently from each other for no reason when one person can do it just fine.

Re:You get what you pay for... and then some more. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29066747)

give it away for free with no strings attached without any need to release the source.

I have hidden code in it to kill switch the software for users I don't like and more hidden code that detects their username from their internet cache and bans them from ever using my software again if they're already on my bad list.

Sic.

Re:You get what you pay for... and then some more. (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066759)

I hope you have some asbestos underwear, and outerwear, and overwear.

And, some marshmallows.

Re:You get what you pay for... and then some more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29066839)

The more often you say 'steal' to describe something which is not stealing, the stupider you sound.

Steal, steal, steally steal, thief, murderer, rapist...

Re:You get what you pay for... and then some more. (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066755)

Yup, always look for well used open source projects before turning to free (or payed) ones. In my opinion, I like free projects about as much as payed ones. They are free, but you won't get any support as you do with open source packages that are doing well. And most of the time they are single man jobs, or side jobs of commercial companies. This means that they are much more likely to contain crap-ware as well. Payed software is only OK if it includes some kind of statement about support and upgrades. If it doesn't you may be in trouble when the first bug hits you.

I won't say that it is impossible to get quality free, non-open source software, but the chances are much higher that you get crap than with pure open source.

Re:You get what you pay for... and then some more. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067079)

Yup, always look for well used open source projects before turning to free (or payed) ones.

Any ideas for good Free alternative to video games such as Halo series, Animal Crossing series, Super Smash Bros. series, or Mario Kart series?

Wikipedia cleaning in progress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29066437)

Information about the badware is being removed from the Wikipedia entry..

Re:Wikipedia cleaning in progress (1)

rtyhurst (460717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067747)

From TF Wikipedia A:

"Presently, interception of Google searches is a permanent effect of the Digsby install process, and cannot be removed through the uninstall process."

That's pretty nasty.

Use Pidgin ... (5, Informative)

Zen-Mind (699854) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066503)

The power of choice: change IM client. There are tons of free IM client, just change it to something else like Pidgin [pidgin.im].

Re:Use Pidgin ... (4, Insightful)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066663)

Agreed, and in the meantime, let them know why nobody is going to use their IM Client anymore.

bugs@digsby.com

http://forum.digsby.com/ [digsby.com]

Re:Use Pidgin ... (1)

!eopard (981784) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066803)

I got out of my cosy warm bed at 2am to remove the Digsby client, not sure if I had the affected version, but I wasn't going to leave on the PC anymore. TY /. :)

Free or not... (5, Insightful)

netruner (588721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066521)

Free or not, hiding (or not mentioning it, or putting it in the .000001 point fine print, or burying it in a 100 page EULA - IOW: obscuring the truth) something that you know people will object to is deceptive, dishonest and wrong. You have to ask yourself, would people not install my "free" software if they knew what it was doing - if the answer is anywhere close to yes, you have a moral obligation to reveal the details.

This is part of the bargain - if you give away something for "free" and advertise it as "free", it needs to be "free" - as in not just that the costs are hidden. Otherwise, it really is a Trojan Horse.

Don't reap the goodwill of the public when you're secretly using them.

Re:Free or not... (5, Interesting)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066707)

Nice little rant that I completely agree with. But I honestly think this needs some legal power behind it. Not just for software either. I don't want anymore "Fat free" foods that aren't fat free. I don't want anymore "Free trials" that automatically sign me up for a pay service that I have to cancel. And I definitely don't want anymore "Buy one get one free" where the "free" ends up being a mail in rebate.

The FTC (2)

earnest murderer (888716) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067003)

The FTC gets around to doing something about it when a Senator falls victim to it.

Since the state and federal computers are fairly tightly controlled, and most of their "computing" is done by interns, don't expect much to happen for a while. Unless a lot of people make a lot of noise.

Cynical yes, but not exactly a rare circumstance.

Re:Free or not... (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067515)

I don't want anymore "Fat free" foods that aren't fat free.

A lot of food adverts over here have started claiming "virtually fat free". They don't state how they are defining "virtually" in these instances though.

FOSS, maybe? (5, Informative)

k33l0r (808028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066535)

Perhaps this is a good point in time to switch to Pidgin [pidgin.im] (multi-platform and my personal choice), Adium [adium.im] (Mac OS X), Empathy [gnome.org] (Gnome), Kopete [kde.org] (KDE), or some other, more trustworthy client?

Re:FOSS, maybe? (1)

Toy G (533867) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066699)

Why people never mention Miranda [miranda-im.com]? It's probably the best free & open-source client for Windows, so much better than Pidgin.

Re:FOSS, maybe? (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067009)

I actually specifically use Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin and X-Chat because my profiles are pretty much portable to different platforms. I've gone through the use of XP, various Linux flavors, OSX, Vista, and Windows 7 in the past two years... Without having to re-setup all my accounts on a different client. If I were to go with a better client for windows, I would probably have stuck with Trillian, which imho is the gold standard for multi-IM clients.

Re:FOSS, maybe? (3, Funny)

bitt3n (941736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067565)

Why people never mention Miranda [miranda-im.com]? It's probably the best free & open-source client for Windows, so much better than Pidgin.

because anything you say via Miranda can and will be used against you in a court of law

Re:FOSS, maybe? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066965)

Pidgin-- unless you have a tablet PC or use voice recognition, Pidgin doesn't work with either of those. (Nor do any GTK+ applications on Windows, at least none I've seen... if anybody tells you a GTK+ app has a native look&feel, please slap them. Thank you.)

Anyway, I "solved" my problem by just switching to Live Messenger, which works with all of Microsoft's UI features, and all my friends were on anyway. The two people I had left on AIM, I just told them they'd have to switch too if they wanted to IM me. I'm a jerk that way. (One has.)

Re:FOSS, maybe? (1)

StayFrosty (1521445) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067587)

I'm running pidgin on my work PC right now. It's a Fujitsu Lifebook T-series running XP tablet PC edition. Pidgin and every other gtk app work just fine. The other tablet I use here is running linux with Xfce as the WM. (Xfce uses GTK as it's toolkit.) The GIMP, Pidgin and every other app run fine.

Re:FOSS, maybe? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067815)

A year ago, the text-editing panel didn't show up for any text fields in Pidgin, nor did they get identified as controls to the speech recognition system. Maybe they've fixed that; frankly I doubt it.

I guess what you're doing is using the tablet's on-screen keyboard, and not editing fields in-place. Yes, that works, because the on-screen keyboard is treated as just a keyboard, but it's a far cry from "supporting tablet input".

(BTW, when I say "it doesn't work", I don't mean "it crashes," I mean "it doesn't work correctly.")

Re:FOSS, maybe? (2, Interesting)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067101)

Kopete is a really terrible application that I could never suggest anybody use, unless they really hate the alternatives.

--signed, a kopete user...

Re:FOSS, maybe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29067701)

I love Kopete, especially how it never works as promised, but I'm glad it at least works. --signed, an anonymous kopete coward

Re:FOSS, maybe? (1)

Toy G (533867) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067787)

Kopete does integrate well with the KDE addressbook, and with the KDE look&feel in general. Doesn't work very well with webcams. The version I use (3.5.9, I think) is not too crashy.

It might not be as good as Pidgin, but I personally cannot stand GTK applications and their huge buttons...

Hitching a ride someone else has to pay for. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29066553)

... and that users should not complain because the client software is 'free.'

Does that mean that if I put a (small, unobtrusive) windmill connected to an accu on their cars and in the evening take that filled accu back to my house they won't complain ?

After all, I put it there for free !

Something tells me that is than suddenly my windmill will be everything bad, from occupying space on/in his car, ugly, dangerous maybe even decremental to their cars miles-per-gallon ratio.

Funny, as their un-allowed usage of a users computer (sneaking it in thru the backdoor and not upfront telling anyone about it is not the same as being allowed to do it), his storage, his computing-capacity and his internet connection (all which have to be payed for by their victims) seems to be "no problem" to those "developers at Digsby" ...

Better This Than Ads (0, Troll)

DorkRawk (719109) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066559)

I think this is a great idea. Make it transparent and let all their users know whats going on (Didsby did a great job with this and their alert system is simple enough for anybody to notice). I don't expect a company to just GIVE me software, if they don't want. They have to pay their developers, so they need revenue. I would MUCH rather have my free apps supported by use of my unused processing power than by ads (which I imagine will be harder and harder to pull revenue from in the future).

As long as it's transparent this seems like a good idea.

Re:Better This Than Ads (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29066911)

Interesting. So I can assume you are using windows, have all of the crapware that came with your computer, and have installed Bonzi Buddy, Weather bug? I mean, you want to support them and all.

Free competitors are equal or better than Digsby (3, Informative)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066577)

Why not use one of the many free competing IM clients?

My favourite is Miranda [miranda-im.com] (Windows only, free but not open source)) because it's incredibly lightweight, uses the default Windows UI, and has an incredibly active plugin community.

Then there's Pidgin [pidgin.im] (multiplatform, free open source) which is also an excellent and mature IM which is also very extensible.

No crapware whatsoever on these similar apps. Support the projects that contribute to the initiatives of free software with your downloads and your dollars. Snub the software that steals control of your computer for monetary gain.

Re:Free competitors are equal or better than Digsb (1)

ween14 (827520) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067055)

It's is a shame that Digsby went down this route and will result in me installing one of the suggestions above.

Digsby had a lot of potential with their integration with Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. I have noticed that many of my friends are no longer using IM clients as much as they used to because they simply post everything to Twitter or Facebook.

Digsby was a single application that allowed me to keep tabs on all of these streams, but now I will have to find alternative (probably open source) solutions.

Full disclosure doesn't mean fine print (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066613)

If a company did this "openly" with full, in-your-face disclosure, there wouldn't be such a bruhahaha.

Then again, as a for-profit, they would lose a lot of users. People don't mind giving up resources to non-profit find-alien-life or fine-a-cure-for-cancer projects nearly as much as they mind giving resources to corporate overlords.

It Would Be A Bad Thing (4, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066635)

... if someone were to hack the malware. It would be very bad if they changed it so it downloaded copyrighted stuff, say whole CDs of recent music, to Digsby's machines, and then sent email to RIAA saying it's there. It would be a very, very bad thing indeed if this were then redistributed and thousands of unsuspecting people installed it and remained unsuspecting as the usually do, while it did its job then erased itself, because otherwise it would have been a Simply Awful very, very bad thing.

Due diligence (2, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066677)

Here's your problem:

The terms of service that no one ever reads does describe the CPU- and bandwidth-robbing moneymaker

In other words, they told you about it in documentation you agreed to and said your read but didn't. This sounds kind of familiar. I think it is because of all the people I have heard say "I didn't know that was in the contract. I signed it but didn't read it. You know, just like all those people with the "sub-prime" adjustable rate mortgages that ballooned after 2 years.

It is called due diligence and everyone should practice it, not just lawyers and businesses.

Re:Due diligence (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29066849)

There is such a thing as a reasonable expectation of the program's functionality. You can't legally put "if you do 100mph for 10 minutes, then a hidden bomb in the tank explodes" in a car rental contract, and neither can you legally add unrelated stealth functions to a program just because you said so in the ToS.

Re:Due diligence (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067203)

There's a menu item to turn it off. That doesn't sound too stealthy.

Re:Due diligence (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29067355)

I think more people have a beef with the fact that they weren't up front about how to turn it off until now...heck I used to use it and I had no idea either.

Re:Due diligence (2, Informative)

umrain (698867) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066997)

Existing users who recieved automatic updates never recieved an updated EULA or any kind of notice of this addition and it was not even mentioned in the changelog.

Re:Due diligence (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067027)

Yes, people have no one to blame but themselves. On the other hand, the developer better not expect the community to be excited about what they did, they should expect some sort of outcry when they violate people's expectations (regardless of whether those expectations are objectively reasonable or not...).

Re:Due diligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29067033)

They put it in a legalese document that is widely known and expected that no one reads. Yeah, can't see that ever being a problem for a company trying to keep users on their product. The issue is that they should be disclosing that a a little better. Yes we should all read every contract we sign but even if you do unless you're a lawyer you are likely to not fully understand what you're signing. Then you're argument of Due Diligence falls apart. It is not reasonable to expect your users to be skilled in reading legal documents in order to understand what your product does. Best solution...just don't use their software.

Re:Due diligence (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067067)

In other words, they told you about it in documentation you agreed to and said your read but didn't.

And if the Digsby devs weren't sociopathic assholes, they'd have advertised the "price" for their software instead of trying to hide it under multiple layers, doing only the bare legal minimum to cover their butts. I'm sure plenty of people would have been happy to let their computer do some number crunching if Digsby were up front about it.

It is called due diligence and everyone should practice it, not just lawyers and businesses.

You're joking, right? No one except the very rich or the very poor has the time to read through all the legalese presented to them at least ten times daily (every purchase signed receipt, signs on entryways and exits, software installations [multiplied by five if you're a sysadmin], etc). Each one of these documents has a Lawyer behind it whose full time job it is to use their years of school and experience to create stuff people can't read. Unless you don't have a job, you can't parse through all of these things looking for crap like Digsby is pulling.

Re:Due diligence (4, Insightful)

The Moof (859402) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067187)

Maybe. If the contract is intentionally written in such a way that no layman can understand it and it's designed to take advantage of you, there is a valid argument against the company (IANAL, but people keep telling me this is true).

And, as one person who replied to you also pointed out, if this was done via an automatic update without you clicking through to agree with a new EULA stating this, they're in trouble.

Re:Due diligence (3, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067339)

Calling due diligence is like complaining about spelling. At the end of the day you just end up being a hypocrite. There is no way that any person can fully read every contract, warning, recall, EULA, instruction manual, etc.. There simply isn't enough time in the day to accomplish this and still function in society. So, what intelligent people do is make the best guess they can as to what has the greatest risk, and read those. This software is a perfect example of something that doesn't cause great harm, so it would have been a bad idea for most people to spend hours reading the TOS when they installed it, and re-read it every time they loaded the software to make sure the TOS didn't change. That doesn't mean that they shouldn't get up in arms about bad behaviour. It doesn't mean that they shouldn't feel that the company behaved unethically. It doesn't mean that they shouldn't complain as loudly and frequently as they feel the ethical infraction warrants. Just because something isn't technically illegal doesn't mean that it isn't unethical or harmful.

As for the sub-prime adjustable rate mortgages that ballooned after 2 years... The number of people that didn't know EXACTLY what they were getting is so small as to be irrelevant. People getting sub-prime ARMs just let greed get in their way and made the stupid prediction that housing prices would always increase dramatically faster than inflation. Of course some people got 3 of them, and when the short term housing price increase happened, they massively mortgaged two of them, put the money into the third, and when prices dropped, they cried that they didn't understand as they walked away from the two massively mortgaged houses with the third being free.

Re:Due diligence (1)

koiransuklaa (1502579) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067741)

So everything Digsby did was a-ok because the only stupid people were conned? Great.

Things have different levels of importance, this should be pretty easy to understand: some things deserve to be buried deep into "documentation" and some things require more attention -- in this case there should have been a page in the installation wizard that explains the issue and Äets the user choose.

The fact that Digsby developers did not do that tells me they are either incompetent or malicious. I am not interested in their software in either case.

Re:Due diligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29067749)

You want due diligence--fine. Make sure all your contracts are written at an eighth grade reading level. Otherwise you've got no reasonable expectation that any of the finer points would be honored. More importantly, you've got no reason to believe that a meeting of the minds occurred--because for a substantial portion of the populace--it *isn't possible*. E.G. the entire "contract" (if clickwrap is a contract) is void.

And given the average attention span of on the order of 5 minutes, you better also make sure that it's possible to finish it in less than that amount of time, or you've got no reason to believe they're actually even capable of assenting to the contract in its entirety. Sure, they *might* be able to understand any given term--until it references paragraph 7b ii.

Look, you call it due diligence--I call your conclusion attempted fraud through sophistry.

Badware? (4, Insightful)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066701)

I know in computing it's fashionable to make up words, but badware? That's just crap. Besides, there's already a suitable word: malware.

Re:Badware? (2, Interesting)

Ankur Dave (929048) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067119)

While I agree with you that making up words is annoying, badware is different from malware: http://stopbadware.org/home/badware [stopbadware.org]

It's a broader term that includes adware as well as directly malicious software. I don't think malware has the same scope.

Re:Badware? (1)

Bohiti (315707) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067379)

I certainly agree that making up words and using them like they're common knowledge is a little unsavory, but "malware" is slightly off-target in this case. By definition, "Malicious Software". I wouldn't call this malicious, its not actively harming you, your data, or you computer (minus a few missing CPU cycles). Perhaps deceive-ware is more appropriate?

Re:Badware? (1)

Bohiti (315707) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067503)

Disregard my parent post. I googled "Badware" [wikipedia.org] and it is a widely used term I wasn't familiar with. The likes of Google, Mozilla, Lenovo, PayPal, VeriSign, Sun, Consumer Reports are on board for this nonprofit StopBadware.org.

From their help page [stopbadware.org]: "What is badware? Badware is software that fundamentally disregards a user's choice regarding how his or her computer will be used." Sounds about right.

N ot free (2, Informative)

zzyzyx (1382375) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066775)

It's not free if it costs you electricity to run the CPU at full power 24/7. All modern processors have idle states in which they reduce energy consumption. These are not just "wasted cycles" that could be put to some use anyway.
A large amount of people also have metered bandwidth connections which might get impacted by this.

users should not complain (4, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066845)

users should not complain because the client software is 'free.'

A malware spreader saying this is like a person who knowingly spreads HIV saying his victims shouldn't complain because they got sex for free. I was going to say "rapist" but digsby doesn't install via drive-by download.

Re:users should not complain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29067097)

Free sex? Where can I get that?

Surely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29066857)

if you set up your computer in such a way that, whenever a computer somewhere else on the internet contacts you and transmits "XYZ", your computer transmits "ABC", which by random chance happens to look very similar to some other data that would have been produced by a piece of hidden crapware on your computer, only different in a couple of small ways, nothing illegal has been done?

Almost Installed it... (1)

Jesterace (914041) | more than 4 years ago | (#29066981)

After an article in MaximumPC magazine that reviewed several IM clients. I downloaded Digsby and when I went to install it I noticed all that crap they wanted to install so I canceled the installation and deleted the installer. I wasn't about to follow through after all that crap they wanted to install. Now I'm glad I didn't try it.

What is the point of this program anyway? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067111)

Aren't there about for zillion great free IM applications out there already? Why would someone use this one? What is the specific draw?

Re:What is the point of this program anyway? (2, Interesting)

Mean Variance (913229) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067389)

Aren't there about for zillion great free IM applications out there already? Why would someone use this one? What is the specific draw?

I used it to combine my Yahoo IM and Twitter feeds (yes, I follow certain people/things in Twitter). Also, it notified me about emails. Alas, I speak of it in the past tense. It was a nice program, but I was always a little leery about whether Digsby was doing something I didn't like. I noticed on IE, which I rarely use, that the search said "Google Search powered by Digsby." I knew that meant I missed a checkbox during the annoying install process.

I uninstalled using Revo. The Digsby uninstaller left a bunch of crap leftover. I've tried different IM clients and I still end up back at Yahoo's default IM with its flaws. For Twitter feeds, I have moved to Thwirl which uses Adobe AIR. I'm not sure if AIR has any negative issues yet. For email notifications, I've fallen back to Gmail Manager as a Firefox add-on.

I'm one of those who likes to try the next popular shiny object, e.g. Digsby, but I often fall back to some old reliable source.

We need a guilt index (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29067141)

The only reason to hide in the fine print the disclosures of dubious functions is because there's a sense of guilt associated with those functions to begin with. There needs to be a guilt index, whereby not only the dubious functions are tallied and evaluated, but also the lengths to which disclosure concerning them is hidden, or in the worst cases, not revealed at all.

LOL! (5, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067427)

users should not complain because the client software is 'free.'

Oh, I'd love to kick that guy in the nads and when he says "Dude! What up?" I'll say "Shut up! It was free!" and then he'd be all weepy like and I'd be all laughin' up in his face. Yeah, good times.

If the internet says its bad... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29067475)

Then it must be true!

If you truly believe that digsby is evil, then I suggest you set out to create your own IM client with similar features.
When you are finished, come back and tell me that you had no problems finding reliable people who would work for free on your project.

And since no one here has even bothered to check with digsby on this issue, I think it's important to note that they are reaching out to their users to find a "friendlier" solution to make a profit. There is even a poll where you can vote! And guess what - The majority of the current users would prefer the current model! That's right, most people would rather see ads once and have an optional research "feature", than see ads every time they load the program (or pay for an "ad-free" or "pro" version).
   

Old News (1)

mkrup99 (1586809) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067633)

Seriously, this is old news. I've been using Digsby for a few versions now, and knew about this from the beginning. The option to turn it off via the "Support Digsby" dialog has always been there. The very fact of the presence of this "feature" scared me off at first, but the quality of the app won me over in the end.

So no, I'm not a fan of having this be part of Digsby, but at least they disclose it (I'm pretty sure there was a blog post on the Digsby Blog a while back about it, and how to disable it) and allow you to opt out.

fyi (3, Informative)

BattleApple (956701) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067651)

http://forum.digsby.com/viewtopic.php?id=4708 [digsby.com]
From steve: digsby developer

@All: This issue will be addressed first thing in the morning. As for performance, the functionality has actually been off this entire time. It is in the TOS because it was planned for the future and Digsby has not been using your CPU/Bandwidth when idle so if you have had performance issues it is not Digsby related.

Old news (4, Informative)

TheHawke (237817) | more than 4 years ago | (#29067659)

This started up back in December of last year according to the forum posts. To top it off, Steve the administrator, shut off the research module since then. Why the stir now? Plura is the one that needs to be hammered that provided the software for this.

Really? People complain about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29067817)

As outlined in TFA - it's in the TOS and it's possible to entirely disable it with 2 clicks.

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in being confused as to why people are pissed off about this... You're not forced to use it, you're told about it, and you can turn if off.

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