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The Pure Software Act of 2006

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the ideas-whose-time-have-come dept.

Software 261

lurker412 writes "The MIT Technology Review features a proposal by Simson Garfinkel to provide honest labels on software in the same way that the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 forced manufacturers of foods and drugs to divulge the contents of their products. The proposal targets adware, spyware and other unsavory practices. It suggests that by requiring software manufacturers to include clear icons for each nasty behavior--rather than hide the disclosures in seldom read or understood click-through SLAs--end users will be better protected. Garfinkel specifically lists eight types of sneaky behavior, but the list is not meant to be exhaustive."

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261 comments

The 'Evil' Bit (4, Interesting)

plover (150551) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819273)

I can hear the software vendors right now. "Oh, sure, I'm going to label my software as 'pop-up', that'll bring in the customers, oh, yeah!" More likely, they'll fight it on the grounds of anyone who ever made or makes use of the Yes/No dialog box -- "That's a pop-up, too, make them label their software." Totally meaningless.

Anyway, did anyone else read this and think immediately of the Evil Bit? The whole thing has got to be a joke, right?

Re:The 'Evil' Bit (3, Funny)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819395)

Wow, every single Microsoft application I've seen qualifies under at least ONE of these icons:

Hook, Modify, Remote Control, Self-Updates and even Stuck.

Re:The 'Evil' Bit (3, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819452)

Hahahaha -- I read your comment and saw the last icon as "Sucks". It worked for me...

Re:The 'Evil' Bit (1)

dasmegabyte (267018) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819619)

So? Nearly every program my company writes does all of those as well. And our customers love us for it.

A program that alters the underlying operating system is not a problem unless it messes something up and then won't fix it. We test our stuff, and if it breaks your machine, we fix it.

Of course, we have a market of several thousand clients, and not several millions...

Re:The 'Evil' Bit (4, Insightful)

badasscat (563442) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819448)

I can hear the software vendors right now. "Oh, sure, I'm going to label my software as 'pop-up', that'll bring in the customers, oh, yeah!" More likely, they'll fight it on the grounds of anyone who ever made or makes use of the Yes/No dialog box -- "That's a pop-up, too, make them label their software." Totally meaningless.

Oh, I don't know. You could have said the same thing about food labels, but the fact is a lot of the food industry actually wanted them. I would think the same about this. Honest software vendors (which is still the majority of the industry), I would think would jump at the chance to be part of something like this, because it would help distinguish why their software is better than the shyster spamware and adware companies' stuff. I mean what if on the one hand you have Real with a whole bunch of scary icons, and on the other you have Apple with only one or two for QuickTime/iTunes? If I were Apple I'd be very happy about this. That's just one example; the easiest that came to mind. In every category you'd have companies on both sides of the issue, depending on who would benefit; it just depends on who's got the most lobbying power in each specific case.

And btw, to respond to another early comment, I too wondered initially what a certain musical duo was doing putting forth software regulation recommendations when I first read the posting.

Labels - but not. (4, Insightful)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819643)

One thing that makes this less desirable from a software marketing standpoint is that in the short-term (early adoption), there is no 'negative' labels, where 8 negative labels means that your program could be considered 'safe' computing.

Further, there are several games that ship with Microsoft DirectX. That modifies your operating system. The program's package can't be labelled without the (wrench icon), unless it comes with installation instructinos about how and where to download the required ActiveX features.

In otherwords, sometimes the labelling will simply get in the way of the whole truth.

Re:The 'Evil' Bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819470)

you mean the evil bit is a joke?
I better turn my firewall back on...

there, now I feel better. No wonder people keep telling me I am sending them viruses. My computer is set to not allow evil packets. I thought that was enough.

Editors on Crack (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819274)

I submitted this story 2 days ago. Rejected.
Must be better slightly aged.

Re:Editors on Crack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819625)

LOL

Yeah, I was rejected the day Mandrake e-mailed everyone about coming out of Chapter 11, 4 days before it was actually posted on /. and the info was on Mandrake's site. tick me off!

{{rolls eyes}}

The sound of silence (5, Funny)

pudding7 (584715) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819279)

Anyone see the name as "Simon and Garfunkle"?

I'll go back to work now...

Re:The sound of silence (5, Funny)

Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819345)

Hello Clippy, my old friend,

I've come to talk with you again,

Because a exploit softly creeping,

Left its worms while I was sleeping,

And the vision that was planted in my brain

Still remains

Within the sound of silence.

Re:The sound of silence (1)

Vargasan (610063) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819375)

Bridge Over Troubled Network

Re:The sound of silence (3, Funny)

phpm0nkey (768038) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819385)

The dude [harvard.edu] even looks like Simon & Garfunkel! [amazon.com]

Re:The sound of silence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819530)

Good Lord - he's their love child!

Re:The sound of silence (4, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819618)

My friends and I have a theory about Simpson - his career as a technology writer and pundit is based primarily on the Memorable Name principle (also known as the "American McGee principle"). This phenomenon seems particularly common in the tech industry.


American McGee is, in my opinion, an emblematic case of this phenomenon. Why was his game called "American McGee's A.L.I.C.E."? Do you ever hear about "John Smith's BullshitGame 2003"? I think not (we won't get into whether or not the game here sucked, which I believe everybody can agree with). Why was Mr. McGee a speaker at so many industry conventions and trade shows? Was it because of his amazing intellect and insights? His colorful lively presentation style? The quality of his work in the gaming industry? No, it's because his fucking name is "American McGee".


Simpson Garfinkel is a pretty good tech writer. Certainly a lot more knowledgeable than some of the idjits out there. But first and foremost, his success and the attention he gets is because his name is eminently brandable and memorable due to its remarkable resemblence to "Simon and Garfunkle". This works at a subconscious level, from what I've observed, even when people don't immediately note the resemblence of his name - they note what a strange name it is, and they always seem to remember it later if they encounter it again.


I won't bother getting to all the other examples of this phenomenon at work - some of them are people I know personally who are great people but owe much of their success to this kind of clever branding ("Jennifer 8. Lee" anyone?). The power of this phenomenon is undeniable. We may all sit around and think we are above this kind of low-level marketing manipulation of our brains, but we need to face the facts: we are being manipulated by the Strange Name Mafia into their sick and twisted view of the technology industry.


Boycott weird-named pundits. Err. Or something.

A Multi Talented Fellow (2, Funny)

ralf1 (718128) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819280)

First he writes "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" and now this!!

Re:"Would you, could you, with a goat?" Dr Seuss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819468)

Inspiration your sig is:
"Would you, could you, with a goat?"
New Verse
Could you would with a goat in a boat?
Could you would you with a goat in a fridge?
Coud you with a goat even a smidge?

No I don't like doing it with goats!
Not in a boat, Not in a fridge!
I don't like doing with goats,
Not even a smidge!

Hey, doing it with a goat isn't all that bad!

Just remember to face them towards a ledge so they push back harder.

And remember to tuck their hind legs into your boots.

Ruined Childhood! (0, Offtopic)

Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819477)

First Santa Claus isn't real, then the tooth faery, now according to your sig ->THE GOATSE GUY IS DR. SUESS?!?!?!?!??!?!

is nothing sacred

Re:A Multi Talented Fellow (1)

sdjunky (586961) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819605)

Actually he wrote "Practical Unix and Internet Security" along with Gene Spafford

Oh, great, icons! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819288)

Because pretty pictures are so meaningful to everyone. Heck, why not just color code? Spyware? Color red. Ads? Color orange. Other unsavory practices? Yellow. It'll obviously be easy to understand.

Re:Oh, great, icons! (0)

jb_davis (732457) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819393)

That color code is already taken http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?theme=29

Erm... (5, Insightful)

r4bb1t (663244) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819317)

How do they plan on labeling software solely distributed over the internet? I'd venture to say that 90% of the spyware that's out there comes through download-only software (DivX, peer to peer software, etc...).

Re:Erm... (2, Interesting)

RiotXIX (230569) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819372)

maybe have icons on the installation screen next to the giant terms of Agreement document?

Re:Erm... (2, Informative)

theghost (156240) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819384)

Require that the icons be prominently displayed on a special confirmation page before purchase or download can occur. Require a similar screen as a part of any installer.

Trivial.

Re:Erm... (1)

r4bb1t (663244) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819428)

Trivial for legitimate companies. Alot of these websites/companies/individuals don't charge for their software -- of what benefit is it to them to label their software if users install the software at their own risk?

Re:Erm... (2, Insightful)

theghost (156240) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819555)

It is of the benefit that they would be in compliance with the law and wouldn't get fined by the government. The cost of implementation is as trivial as the process itself, therefore they would have little excuse for not doing it.

The reason for doing this has as much or more to do with making deceitful software makers accountable as it does with educating the consumer.

Re:Erm... (0)

KhalidBoussouara (768934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819542)

This would probably not be that hard to enforce on software distributed over the Internet. Since the majority of spyware companies are based in the USA (as is with most businesses which use the internet) they could easily be required to do this. It wouldn't be that hard to get someone in court for not doing this.

Although I doubt that the government would do anything, I'm just saying that they could.

The idea is great... (4, Insightful)

MacFury (659201) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819319)

Implementation would be far too much trouble. Developers would fight you at every turn. Would my software be spyware if I had it collect general system stats if you choose to register, so that I know the average machine speed of my clients? Would that carry the same label as a program that logged every keystroke and sent that back?

Re:The idea is great... (1)

sybase (592402) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819410)

perhaps each icon should have a severity level indicator. A scale of one to ten.

Re:The idea is great... (4, Insightful)

kawika (87069) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819437)

You missed the point, or more likely did not read the article. Having one of these icons doesn't mean your program is "spyware". It means that your program performs one or more of these functions. Other programs such as virus scanners or keyboard drivers might have them too. The point is to inform users in a concise way of program behaviors that may cause some sort of trouble. The more of these things a program does (like autoupdate or sending back click data) the harder a user should look at the license to be sure they really trust what is going on.

Re:The idea is great... (2, Insightful)

NaugaHunter (639364) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819566)

Q: Would my software be spyware if I had it collect general system stats if you choose to register, so that I know the average machine speed of my clients?

A: Yes. Most programs that have a reason to do this already warn you anyway. I didn't see anything specific, but it would be fine if it worked like Ratings that describe WHY they are there. For example, if it listed next to the 'Reports Home' icon a blurb that says 'User controlled system reporting for research' it would be fine. As for who would watch this, once the icons are in place it would probably be relatively simple to set up a Consumer Watch Group for this alone. A website listing whether a product is accurately labeled would be the minimum required, though we could easily have more.

As for funding, rights, blah blah blah: we already have a FDA because food and drugs are such an integral part of daily life. Every state has a DMV. For better or worse, the FCC is all over the place watching things. Aren't computers ubiquitous enough for them to monitored yet for consumer protection?

Parsley sage rosemary and thyme... (1, Funny)

Capt'n Hector (650760) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819323)

From the guys who divulged KFC's secred recipite. Sorry, I couldn't resist...

Can there be a label... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819328)

to denote buggy code?

Re:Can there be a label... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819391)

There already is, it's a picture of a Window.

Re:Can there be a label... (1)

plover (150551) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819416)

"This software was developed with bugs, may have come in contact with bugs, and may contain bugs or parts of bugs."

Now, if I could just ASCII-ART up a cockroach ...

Re:Can there be a label... (5, Funny)

dspfreak (666482) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819425)

to denote buggy code?

Yeah, it has red, blue, green, and yellow wavy squares in a 2x2 pattern with a black border.

Re:Can there be a label... (1)

fucksl4shd0t (630000) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819456)

to denote buggy code?

How about "Designed for Windows XP"? Better yet, let's require buggy code to come with a certificate of authenticity and a hologram!

Here you are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819475)

Here [bbc.co.uk] you go!

Re:Can there be a label... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819514)

Sure!

While we're at it, how about "convenient" labeling that tells us that the RAM requirements are three times less than what they actually are, because there are three "servings" of software in the box? You know, like all those Atkins-friendly foods that are only Atkins-friendly if you eat 1/8th of what's in the package.

Re:Can there be a label... (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819591)

You mean something like this [google.ca] ?

Re:Can there be a label... (1)

asr_man (620632) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819632)

Sorry, the Microsoft logo is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation.

Adware/Spyware makes me mad (1)

thebra (707939) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819346)

I hate this stuff, I'm glad I switched to Linux. I've had to completely wipe out pc's at work because of adware/spyware. Some program called "Hotbar" is the worst.

Re:Adware/Spyware makes me mad (1, Insightful)

jb_davis (732457) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819433)

The people who get spyware are the stupid and the elderly. Switching to linux would make things even worse for them.

Re:Adware/Spyware makes me mad (3, Insightful)

gumpish (682245) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819497)

The people who get spyware are the stupid and the elderly. Switching to linux would make things even worse for them.

I believe you just made the case for Mac OS X.

Re:Adware/Spyware makes me mad (-1, Flamebait)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819587)

Yeah, you just described most OSX users I know.

Finally (5, Informative)

JoeShmoe950 (605274) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819347)

Spyware is a big problem which isn't Window's fault. Because windows is the biggest, it gets targetted by spyware. You can still right a program which uses 100% CPU Usage and makes everything really slow,etc. for another OS, no matter how secure. Unfortunetly, its targeted at windows. My friend thought that windows XP was horrible because it was running so slow. On a 2ghz, it would take 5 minutes to load IE. I showed him Ad-Aware from lavasoft. It detected 589 spyware objects, quite a few of them different. I found that a big problem with spyware, is not only the spying, yet the fact that it slows your system to a hault. If this works, and makes spyware go away, or atleast well known spyware label itself (such as gator), I will rejoice.

Re:Finally (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819442)

That's funny. I run Mozilla/Firefox when I'm forced to boot into XP because of work. Doesn't seem to have the problems with allowing software to be installed just by visiting a site.
A lot of the problem are things like "Comet Cursor" and "Bonzi Buddy" that promise some cutesey interface tweak or effect, and then co-opt your computer in the process without being terribly forthcoming about it. If they were forced to have a big icon of, say, that guy in Indiana Jones taking people's beating hearts out, I think that'd go a ways to keeping the ignorant/stupid/whatever among us from installing that kind of crapware.

Re:Finally (1)

UnassumingLocalGuy (660007) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819449)

You did tell him to start using Mozilla, Firefox, or Opera, right?

I hope?

Re:Finally (4, Insightful)

ThisIsFred (705426) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819644)

Spyware is a big problem which isn't Window's fault. Because windows is the biggest, it gets targetted by spyware.

Sorry, but that's complete and utter bullshit. My tech team spends too much time cleaning up after malware. I made the mistake of switching our organization over to IE several years ago, mainly due to complaints about compatibility. The majority of these nasty malware programs take advantage of design flaws in IE to enter the system and remain there.

I'm now testing Netscape 7 as a standard browser. It cannot be modified, or accessed through the operating system as can IE. Therefore, most of the loading schemes used by malware do not work. So IE is definitely part of the problem. IE is part of Windows, so it is Windows' fault. Malware programs modify Windows so that they can run as extensions to the operating system, and no actually up as a process in the process list.

Never work (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819353)

requiring software manufacturers to include clear icons for each nasty behavior

How do you fit all those icons onto MS packaging?

There’s a Microsoft joke here someplace (-1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819354)

There's a Microsoft joke here someplace, I'm just not witty enough right now to put my finger on it...

Shouldn't? (0, Redundant)

dannyelfman (717583) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819360)

Shouldn't he stick to writing music instead?

Perhaps you can get that new Earth government (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819362)

To implement it. Software is created internationally, especially some of the riskier/more questionable stuff. Congress can pass laws all the want, but it's going to be difficult to get a programmer in Uzbekistanajanina to follow.

Re:Perhaps you can get that new Earth government (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819559)

Food is created internationally too and it wasn't much of a problem getting foteign manufacturers to label it... If they want to sell the stuff in the U.S they label it after U.S rules, and so will software manufacturers.

(mod parent up) Re:Perhaps you can get that (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819614)

while true, food isn't as easily distributed as software. I still think you make a good point. Public awareness can help to insure that foreign software not exhibiting these rules should not be downloaded except with extreme caution.

New label on Windows XP retail box (4, Funny)

morelife (213920) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819364)

to provide honest labels on software in the same way that the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 forced manufacturers of foods and drugs to divulge the contents of their products.


By opening or removing the seal to this package you agree to abide by the terms explained in the enclosed EULA. By the way, this product contains software code, which, by installing on your computer, could render you utterly defenseless from intrusion, viruses, worms, trojans, popup advertising, loss of data, loss of privacy, NOT TO MENTION putting you on an endless treadmill of planned obsolescence, making you a pawn in the global theater of consumer rape by corporations. Enjoy!! Oh, yeah, we don't guarantee that the software works, and, no refunds.


Question for Mr Garfinkle: (0, Troll)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819365)

Did your ivory tower come equiped with an ivory backscratcher? And if so, where can I buy one?

Troll: MOD PARENT DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819486)


Trolls seem to be helping each other out today. Interesting.

Re:Troll: MOD PARENT DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819579)

Yeah totally: it's amazing how many inflamatorry and rude comments I've seen recently marked as funny. And how many +5 comments just aren't funny at all. I'm scrolling down the page, and I've seen about 4 different lame posts referencing to Simon and Garfunkel (score 4/5 each). The editors should seriously consider giving funny comments a max of +3: it's turning Slashdot into a feeble forum, when we see interesting articles dominated by unfunny posts.

The right way to fight "spyware" (4, Insightful)

kawika (87069) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819370)

As that article says, most of the proposals to control spyware get bogged down in trying to define spyware without catching sofware that is clearly legitimate, such as an antivirus program trying to "phone home" automatically to update its virus signatures.

I would much rather see regulation that required all software to clearly declare its intentions, and to get explicit and verified permission to install.

Re:The right way to fight "spyware" (2, Insightful)

fucksl4shd0t (630000) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819508)

I would much rather see regulation that required all software to clearly declare its intentions, and to get explicit and verified permission to install.

Forget intentions, and forget trying to define "spyware". Just use a little ET icon to show that the software phones home, let the marketers say why, and let the user decide. I mean, come one, the user needs to carry some of this burden. Let's not fill software up with idiot labels, shall we?

So, I say if they stick labels, they should define them by function rather than buzzword. If the software uses any networking code for *any* reason, then it should have an icon. If it only uses loopback interface, then it gets a "local machine only". And so on and so forth.

Never happen (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819371)

As long as we have members of our government like Senator Cantwell (D-Real)

Read up on how she's bought-and-paid for by a loan from Real Networks - a loan that Ms. Cantwell got to pay for her campaign by using her insider shares she got from Real - and a loan that was supposed to have been called in when Real's stock price tanked.

And that's just Real - anyone wonder how many Senators, Congressmen, and President's Bill Gates has on his payroll?

Like requiring thieves to pay taxes on thier loot. (3, Insightful)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819379)

Are the makers of porn dialers, trojans, email relays and viruses going to put a helpful icon on their software? No.

That is contrary to the nature of the software, which is to hide, report on your actions, enable remote operations, reproduce and the like.

Spammers are going to ignore this, just like an unsubscribe link.

Re:Like requiring thieves to pay taxes on thier lo (2, Interesting)

tspilman (135105) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819496)

Are the makers of porn dialers, trojans, email relays and viruses going to put a helpful icon on their software? No.

Of course not, but the makers of legitimately well behaved products will. You look at two food cans... one has a label with ingredients and such and the other one doesn't. Which one will you eat?

This to work would require one or more bodies like the ESRB to test products, assign the correct labeling, and go after abusers.

Re:Like requiring thieves to pay taxes on thier lo (0)

jb_davis (732457) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819509)

They don't just ignore the unsubscribe link, they use it to see if the address is valid. It's done more harm than good.

Re:Like requiring thieves to pay taxes on thier lo (1)

lurker412 (706164) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819532)

As I understood the article, the idea is to make this obligatory and, presumably subject to legal sanction. If you mislablel a drug, the FDA can cause you a world of grief. This would make the creators of scumware subject to the same level of punishment. The risk could become too great for the reward.

Re:Like requiring thieves to pay taxes on thier lo (1)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819575)

Are the makers of porn dialers, trojans, email relays and viruses going to put a helpful icon on their software? No.

I don't think this legislation is going after criminals, per se, but software like Gator and the like that are "legitimate" businesses with sleasy tactics. By making such underhanded tactics illegal, it will severely limit how much money etc can be collected by such a scheme. That is contrary to the nature of the software, which is to hide, report on your actions, enable remote operations, reproduce and the like.

Yes, and any corporation that wants to stay in business will comply with this law, reducing the effectiveness of such programs, and discouraging it.

Spammers are going to ignore this, just like an unsubscribe link.

Eh, spammers aren't the worst problem with this kind of software. Gator etc. are, as their software looks genuinely useful to the average user.

Cheers,
Justin

Sounds good for most people. (1)

csguy314 (559705) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819418)

While those with a little more knowledge can block access to their computer or remove harmful software; for Joe User this sounds like a good idea. They'll clearly see what harmful or risky behaviour any particular piece of software can bring with it. Of course many software companies (particularly big ones with an interest in collecting information without necessarily letting people know they're doing that...) would fight it. But if it's legislated then they'd either have to comply, or be a lot more underhanded in how they do it. In either case, it still sounds better than a 50 page EULA (which they can be underhanded with anyway).

Great idea, but... (1)

Swamii (594522) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819436)

I really like this idea; users too easily click "Yes" on licenses designed to sell your soul to the developers. Creating clear icons specifying the software's behavior could potentially wake up users to the fact that they're being shammed.

However, as some previous posters mentioned, most naughty software is available only online; I can't go to Best Buy and purchase a Windows Clock synchronizer. :-) Given that most of the software in question is online only, and given the ambiguous lines of law over the internet, I don't see this working.

Re:Great idea, but... (1)

damiam (409504) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819517)

I can't go to Best Buy and purchase a Windows Clock synchronizer.

Sure you can, it's built into Windows XP.

Anyone see anything wrong with this? (1)

IceAgeComing (636874) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819441)

I'm interested in an intelligent discussion of ideas in the marketplace, and whether the government should be in the position of enforcing the openness of information. Trolls need not participate; we know how tempting it is for you.

Basic economic principles, such as supply/demand curves, are based on the principle of a marketplace with "open information": all buyers and sellers know the same things.

Yet, even when it comes to the FDA ingredients label, we hear companies bitching and moaning and finding new ways to confuse people. Case in point: Cholesterol-free Mazola Corn Oil! Good for the heart!

So, who exactly (besides the corporations themselves) is against the idea of government forcing the opening of information to buyers? Is it really such a hard line to draw (between what buyers *should* know and what is proprietary information)?

Re:Anyone see anything wrong with this? (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819633)

principle of a marketplace with "open information"

In most cases, "open information" (or a close approximation) will happen automatically, unless steps are taken to prevent it. Some consumers will examine the products they buy and exchange that information with other potential customers, so the truth quickly gets out. Or secondary businesses will spring up providing reviews of availabile products.

But in reality, there are often legal obstacles to this free exchange of info: Intellectual Property laws means that to some extent, the government is conspiring with corporations to blind consumers. Occasionally the government will be forced to respond and create new laws that open up certain information demanded by the public. (A question: Is it better to hurt something and then partially fix it, or not hurt it at all?)

In the case of software, I'd follow the rule of thumb that less legisilation = better. Rather than creating new laws on how programs must be labelled with warning icons instead of text hidden in the EULA, the government should just rule (clarify?) that typical EULAs have no legal validty. That won't solve the problem, but it'll take it off the government's hands and leave it up to the free market. (Assuming that the DMCA doesn't ban public spreading of software-data...)

So, who exactly (besides the corporations themselves) is against the idea of government forcing the opening of information to buyers?

The way you phrase your questions is quite different from the "Pure Software" proposal in the article. You use the word "buyer", implying that rules would only apply if money changes hands.

Garfinkel, however, proposes something much broader: "mandatory labelling for all software distributed in the United States". That broadness right there makes the "Act" dangerous, because it'd apply to all software, including amateur/hobbyist, "Free Software", and academic Computer Science books.

Is it really such a hard line to draw (between what buyers *should* know and what is proprietary information)?

It's easy to draw the line: almost nothing should be considered proprietary information, except for the actual copyrighted program files themselves. Anything else should be fair game.

Fine by me... (1)

Ryan Monster (767204) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819447)

This is fine by me, as long as the "honest labels on software" are written all in hex ;)

Re:Fine by me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819631)

BADF00D

Reward good, instead of punishing evil (4, Interesting)

maiden_taiwan (516943) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819458)

Software vendors will have no incentive to put negative labels on their products; even if it's the law, they'll find some loopholes to avoid the labels. Instead, they would have more incentive to use labels that are positive. Instead of making a vendors say, "Yes, I use spyware," it makes more sense to award well-behaved programs a positive seal of approval which means, "This software uses no spyware, is uninstallable, etc."

Re:Reward good, instead of punishing evil (1)

Lil'wombat (233322) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819610)

So we need an organization like UL (Underwriters Laboratory) to say this is an OK product. The problem with such a system is that there are no consequences for non-compliance. I'd like a system where a software creaters rights to sue under DCMA, EULA etc are limited if they don't have the Good Software Seal of Approval. If we had such a seal, then the other problem would be getting business to buy into it.

Hmmmm... If the government mandated that all software purchased by them or used to conduct business with them required the GSSA, then you can bet that change would happen real quick.

Ok Bad Idea. This will be like the Sonny Bono copyright extension Act. Forget what I said.

Re:Reward good, instead of punishing evil (1)

IceAgeComing (636874) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819622)

So are you implying that vendors who secretly include spyware should not face penalties? Does a society function well if deceit goes unpunished?

We could apply the same argument to suggest the removal of FDA food labels. Foods labels could include just "good" information. But then, I'd argue, the health of people would suffer more than with our current system: capitalism rewards those who sell the cheapest products for the greatest profit. I don't see many "health food" items falling into this category.

20% Less Adware (1)

FubarPA (670436) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819460)

Does that mean that later down the line some software is gonna advertise haing 20% less adware / spyware than the leading software? Great...

100 years later and Congress still can't read. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819469)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

But hey, if "no" doesn't mean "no," then we have a lot of convicted rapists who need to be released.

Yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819471)

It's like wearing a t-shirt with the words " I am the one your mom warned you about". Yeah, right....

Open Source Is A Trust Mark (1)

Doug Dante (22218) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819473)

When I need a Windows program to do some task, unless there is a program that I know and trust, I always look for a suitable open source solution first.

Open Source acts as a trust mark. I've never even heard of a spyware program released under the GPL.

Yes, I may need to use a DOS prompt and run cdrao and vcdimager with a bunch of confusing flags to burn a VCD from my TV tuner card, but it still works, it doesn't notify a database that I like CSI, it doesn't intentionally degrade the output, and I don't get any unwanted popup messages.

Nutrition Facts (4, Funny)

ets960 (759094) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819482)

Looks like this software contains 36% of my daily value of spam, but it does contain 200% of my daily requirements for internet messaging.

GET SOME PRIORITIES!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819501)

It's merely 6 years since The Gator Corporation [claria.com] chomped a hole in the privacy of the boxen of our friends and families and you people are talking about honest software labeling??? MY GOD, people, GET SOME PRI0-
. . .oh.

Apache Webserver (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819502)

Carlories: 0
Serving Size: 3000 per second

article text (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819503)

The Pure Software Act of 2006
100 years ago, Congress passed a law requiring honest labeling of food and drugs. Now the time has come to do the same for software.

By Simson Garfinkel
The Net Effect
April 7, 2004

Spyware is the scourge of desktop computing. Yes, computer worms and viruses cause billions of dollars in damage every year. But spyware--programs that either record your actions for later retrieval or that automatically report on your actions over the Internet--combines commerce and deception in ways that most of us find morally repugnant.

Worms and viruses are obviously up to no good: these programs are written by miscreants and released into the wild for no purpose other than wreaking havoc. But most spyware is authored by law-abiding companies, which trick people into installing the programs onto their own computers. Some spyware is also sold for the explicit purpose of helping spouses to spy on their partners, parents to spy on their children, and employers to spy on their workers. Such programs cause computers to betray the trust of their users.

Until now, the computer industry has focused on technical means to control the plague of spyware. Search-and-destroy programs such as Ad-Aware will scan your computer for known spyware, tracking cookies, and other items that might compromise your privacy. Once identified, the offending items can be quarantined or destroyed. Firewall programs like ZoneAlarm takes a different approach: they don't stop the spyware from collecting data, but they prevent the programs from transmitting your personal information out over the Internet.

But there is another way to fight spyware--an approach that would work because the authors are legitimate organizations. Congress could pass legislation requiring that software distributed in the United States come with product labels that would reveal to consumers specific functions built into the programs. Such legislation would likely have the same kind of pro-consumer results as the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906--the legislation that is responsible for today's labels on food and drugs.

The Art of Deception

Mandatory software labeling is a good idea because the fundamental problem with spyware is not the data collection itself, but the act of deception. Indeed, many of the things that spyware does are done also by non-spyware programs. Google's Toolbar for Internet Explorer, for example, reports back to Google which website you are looking at so that the toolbar can display the site's "page rank." But Google goes out of its way to disclose this feature--when you install the program, Google makes you decide whether you want to have your data sent back or not. "Please read this carefully," says the Toolbar's license agreement, "it's not the usual yada yada."

Spyware, on the other hand, goes out of its way to hide its true purpose. One spyware program claims to automatically set your computer's clock from the atomic clock operated by the U.S. Naval Observatory. Another program displays weather reports customized for your area. Alas, both of these programs also display pop-up advertisements when you go to particular websites. (Some software vendors insist that programs that only display advertisements are not spyware, per se, but rather something called adware, because they display advertisements. Most users don't care about this distinction.)

Some of these programs hide themselves by not displaying icons when they run and even removing themselves from the list of programs that are running on your computer. I've heard of programs that list themselves in the Microsoft Windows Add/Remove control panel--but when you go to remove them, they don't actually remove themselves, they just make themselves invisible. Sneaky.

Yet despite this duplicity, most spyware and adware programs aren't breaking any U.S. law. That's because many of these programs disclose what they do and then get the user's explicit consent. They do this with something that's called a click-wrap license agreement--one of those boxes full of legal mumbo-jumbo that appears when you install a program or run it for the first time. The text more-or-less spells out all of the covert tricks that these hostile programs might play on your system. Of course, hardly anybody reads these agreements. Nevertheless, the agreements effectively shield purveyors of spyware and adware from liability. After all, you can't claim that the spyware was monitoring your actions without your permission if you gave the program permission by clicking on that "I agree" button.

Uniform standards for labeling software wouldn't replace the need for license agreements, but they would make it harder for companies to bury a program's functions. Such legislation--call it the Pure Software Act of 2006--would call for the Federal Trade Commission to establish standards for the mandatory labeling of all computer programs that are distributed within the United States. A labeling requirement would force makers of spyware to reveal their program's hidden features.
The Historical Precedent

As I hinted above, we've been down this road before. The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was passed by Congress to deal with a remarkably similar set of deceptive business practices. The problem back in 1906 was foods and drugs that were sold with misleading labels, or without labels at all.

The 1906 Act required that every drug sold in the United States be delivered to the consumer in a package that states the strength, quality, and purity of the drug if they differed from accepted standards. The dose of the drug had to be clearly printed on the outside of the package. A number of ingredients that tended to accompany nineteenth century patent medicines--substances like alcohol, codeine, and cannabis--had to be clearly disclosed as well.

In the case of food, the Act required that labels explicitly mention any artificial colors and flavors--after 1906, you couldn't sell something called "orange soda" unless it had flavoring that came from genuine oranges. Otherwise you were selling "imitation" or "artificial" orange soda. And every bottle, box, and bag of food needed to clearly indicate the precise weight of the food that was inside the container.

The Pure Food and Drug Act was successful for many reasons. Forcing manufacturers to disclose what was in their products allowed consumers to avoid products that contained things they didn't want to ingest. For example, many of the snake-oil tonics distributed at the end of the nineteenth century contained significant doses of addictive drugs like codeine or cocaine. Forcing to disclose these drugs on the product's label, along with a warning that said "may be habit forming," made it possible for consumers to make informed decisions. Labeling also empowered scientists and eventually consumer groups to check the product makers' claims. Mandatory labeling put pressure on manufacturers to remove the most objectionable ingredients--a process that continues to this day. Finally, the labels provided additional evidence to lawmakers that was used to justify the crafting of additional legislation.

The parallels between nineteenth century adulterated food products and twenty-first century adulterated software is uncanny. Just as some tonics claimed to do one thing (like grow hair) when they actually did another (made the user intoxicated and chemically dependent on codeine), today we have software that claims to do one thing (set the time of your PC) and actually does another thing (displays ads when you visit particular websites).

So what would a Pure Software Act look like? Judging from 1906 legislation, the best results are likely to come from requiring labels that would directly address the issue of deception. The new law would therefore require that software identify itself as such: no more hidden programs that silently install themselves and then run without any visible evidence. The Pure Software Act would make it illegal for programs to run without revealing themselves though the standard means used by the host operating system. And the Act would require that programs have an "uninstall" feature--or else make it very plain that they do not.

Documenting a program's installation and providing for its removal is just the start. The Pure Software Act would require that the Federal Trade Commission identify specific practices of software that would have to be explicitly revealed when the programs are distributed and run. Instead of letting companies hide the features of their software with obscurely written legalese buried in click-through license agreements, the legislation would require that the disclosure be made in the form of easy-to-understand icons that could be clicked on for additional information. Clicking on the icon would bring up further explanatory text--perhaps from a website maintained by the Federal Trade Commission. The icons could also be displayed in other places. Under Windows, for example, the Task Manager and the Add/Remove control panel could both display the mandated behavior icons alongside the program's application icon.

A Modest Proposal

To make my proposal more concrete, I've come up with a list of program behaviors that would have to be disclosed, and some representative icons. These icons (created by TechnologyReview.com senior graphic designer Matthew Bouchard) are just samples to illustrate the concept. Actual government-mandated icons would be developed by a team of professionals with expertise in human computer interface, tested on focus groups, and put up for public comment. But these icons are useful to convey the general idea and to start discussion.

Hook: Runs at Boot
Some programs hook themselves in to your computer's operating system so that they automatically run whenever the computer is rebooted or a user logs in. Other programs don't. Today there's no way to tell except by performing a detailed analysis of the computer's configuration files before and after the program is installed and noting the changes. Any program that installs itself so that it automatically runs would have to display this Hook icon.
Dial: Places a Phone Call
One common spyware scam involves programs that cause your computer to call phone numbers that cost you money. For example, a few years ago some pornographic websites distributed a program called david.exe that caused the victim's computer to make a long-distance phone call to an Internet service provider in Eastern Europe; the porn company got to keep half of the (exorbitantly high) long distance revenues. Other kinds of scam software might dial 900-numbers or even use your computer to send junk faxes without your knowledge. Documenting that the software has code that could make it dial your phone would be a good way to address this problem.
Modify: Alters Your Computer's Operating System
Some programs do more than simply install themselves to run at boot--they alter your computer's operating system. Seeing this icon would give you a reason to ask questions. More likely, forcing this kind of disclosure would simply end the practice on the part of developers.
Monitor: Keeps Track of What You're Doing
Most programs mind their own business. But some software watches your keystrokes and monitors the Web pages you are viewing even as other programs run in the foreground. Programs can watch as you create files, make copies of every document that's printed, or simply note when your computer is idle and when it's in use. The key here is that personal information is being captured by a program when you think that it's not listening. Perhaps this icon might incorporate a lightening bolt to indicate that the monitored information is reported back over the Internet to someone else.
Displays Pop-Ups
A well-mannered program speaks only when spoken to. Some programs, on the other hand, demand your attention. I was astonished the other day when Microsoft Word 2003 popped a window up on my computer inviting me to participate in some kind of survey. A few years ago I noticed that an electronic wallet program called Gator was opening up windows to competing websites whenever I visited certain online merchants.
Remote Control: Lets Other Programs Take Over Your Computer
In theory, any program that's running on your computer can take it over and execute commands on the part of others. In practice, only very few programs have the ability to offer others such remote control. Programs that do so should be labeled.

Self-Updates: This Program May Change Its Behavior
One of the most important techniques for software vendors to deal with persistent computer security problems is to have their programs automatically update themselves with code downloaded from the Internet. Programs that have this feature should advertise that capability, because they can change their behavior without any input from the user.
Stuck: Cannot be Uninstalled
Some programs, once installed in your computer, are impossible to dislodge. These programs are typically operating system updates, but it is easy for a clever programmer to make uninstallable spyware as well. Consumers should be informed that there are some programs for which there is no going back.

Rules of Engagement

With the icons would come rules for their use. For instance, many of today's click-through license agreements say that the user implicitly agrees to any changes in the license agreement unless those changes are "substantive." But what is substantive? Once a label regime was in place, a substantive change could be legally defined as a change that results in a change of icons--for example, if a self-updating program downloaded a remote-control feature. The law could then require that this sort of change would require new consent on the part of the user.

One tension inherent with any labeling regime is in deciding what gets put on the label and what gets left out. The more information required on the label, the more expensive it will be to produce, and the less likely that consumers would be to actually pay attention to the information. Any regulatory body implementing this policy will need to avoid icon creep--having 23 different icons on each piece of software won't serve the needs of consumers, it will just cause confusion.

Personally, I'd like my software labels to distinguish between information that's collected and used in aggregate form and personally identifiable information that's stockpiled in a large data warehouse. But fundamentally this isn't about what the program does--it's about what the company does after the program has reported its information. That is, this is a business practice that should be protected by the company's privacy policy. Perhaps we need icons there, too. (Years ago, the trade organization TRUSTe tried to have three icons for three different kinds of standard privacy policies; TRUSTe gave up when its member companies balked.)

Another tension is between voluntary and mandatory labeling. I think that mandatory is the way to go. We're living in a voluntary regime today: Google has done a great job explaining what the Google Toolbar does, but other companies are not so forthcoming. Nearly 100 years' experience with The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 shows that labeling requirements need not be onerous, but they do need to be mandatory--otherwise the good companies label and the bad companies don't. What's needed now is to extend this principle to the world of software.

Acknowledgements
I've been discussing this proposal for software labeling for several months with associates in Cambridge. At Harvard Law School, Jonathan Zittrain offered very helpful comments; at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, I had useful discussions and comments with my thesis advisors, Rob Miller and David Clark, and with my fellow student, Steven Bauer.

Bring back Mr. Yuck! (2, Insightful)

jonfelder (669529) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819539)

Why not use Mr. Yuck! stickers and icons all software that uses unsavory practices?

No need to make it complicated...if it's got any characteristics like spyware it's crap and gets a Mr. Yuck. Simple.

Too bad they didn't have this years ago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819544)

Then they would have been required by law to tell me how bad Daikatana was before I bought it.

Warning (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819550)

Ingredients: Proprietary code, Spyware, Adware, annoying prompts, unintelligible menu structure, useless or partially imptemented features, inconsistent API implementation and easter eggs (which took time that could have been better used ensuring quality or useful features.) Does not provide sufficient minimum levels of help. May contain traces of any of the following: Bugs, security holes, back doors, memory leaks and bloat. Expiration Date: 2 years after the next version comes out.

NO! (4, Interesting)

ThisIsFred (705426) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819553)

No thanks. I have more trust for "disinterested" third parties that verify and publish on their own. A more helpful law would be one that protects the researchers (even amateur ones) from harassment (legal or otherwise). It's a slippery slope, it will not end with labeling.

I *don't* want that to happen with software! I'd much rather retain the right, as fair use, to legally modify crap-ware, and also have the right to discuss the details of that modification with other people.

So Service Packs are listed as "Preservatives" (1)

BrentRJones (68067) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819556)

or perhaps there would be a breakdown into Active and Inert and Harmful ingredients?

Interesting (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819557)

I see this as a step towards obliging software vendors to offer some sort of guarantee, and that IMHO is something that has been a long time coming. For too long, closed-source software vendors have hidden behind the words "No Warranty" and the confidentiality of their source code to avoid acknowledging bugs.

Open Source software should be perfectly capable of complying with this requirement, since the source code is the guarantee document (you can truthfully state that it will do whatever the source code says it will do, and if it doesn't then it's your equipment that is faulty).

will go unused (2, Insightful)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819567)

The food and drug industry is heavily regulated, and is substantially easier to control than software because producers need to be licensed with various governmental bodies, depending upon the country. Rightfully so, as lives are at stake.

If this sort of labeling scheme is to achieve widespread adoption, it will need the same sort of tight regulations. I don't believe that the majority of developers would enjoy this at all... imagine having to have upgrade releases and patches approved by the Federal Software Administration, before being allowed to legally distribute it to the public. Throw in the fact that it would take several decades just to get a minority of the world's countries on the same wagon, and consider that most "scumware" (to generalize) comes from outside the U.S.

It's a great idea, but the execution is all wrong. More appropriate would be to grant developers the ability to have their software approved as "Popup free" or "Doesn't Phone Home" or the inverse of the many other icons that Simson Garfinkel (sounds like a joke) proposes. This legislation would prove a lot harder to fight from an industry perspective.

Windows XP affected? (0, Troll)

Stack_13 (619071) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819580)

Just for the kicks, let's see how the Pure Software Act would apply to Windows XP (although many of the listed program behaviors would be true for any other modern operating).

1. Hook: Runs at Boot
Check

2. Dial: Places a Phone Call
Activation procedure, Messenger, etc.

3. Modify: Alters Your Computer's Operating System
Duh. It *is* the OS.

4. Monitor: Keeps Track of What You're Doing
Windows Media player / IE's index.dat come to mind.

5. Displays Pop-Ups
At least before XP SP2 comes out.

6. Remote Control: Lets Other Programs Take Over Your Computer
Just how many exploits *are* there at the moment?

7. Self-Updates: This Program May Change Its Behavior
Windows Update, anybody?

8. Stuck: Cannot be Uninstalled
Unless you count formatting the hard drive as such.

Re:Windows XP affected? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819641)

Linux RedHat 9.0 comes out with the exact same ratings.

Copy protection and DRM (4, Insightful)

vegetablespork (575101) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819581)

should be required to be disclosed in a standard manner on the outside of the packaging. Products that require registration or "activation" to run after purchase like TurboTax (last year's--don't know about this year's since I switched to TaxCut) and PowerQuest's recent utilities should be required to carry this disclosure in a standard, readable, consistent format.

If anyone cries that this would be like a scarlet letter and harm his sales, remind him that proponents of DRM (while wielding effective monopolies in their product areas) were saying to "let the market sort it out." Free markets require good information, which such a law will provide.

Built/Supported/Emulation label (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819589)

One of the biggest problems my friends and relatives bother me about is buggy $12 software they get in the bargain bins.
It's so hard to explain to them that software built for win95 with ancient versions of quicktime/acroread will probably not work very well on WinXP.
They say, but the box says it works for WinXP.
And I say, "it depends on the definition of 'works'". And don't be cheap, do not buy any software that "works" on Win95 for WinXP.

A gov't enforced standard label would help:
Built Around: Win95
Fully Supported: Win95, Win98, WinME
Emulation Supported: WinXP

Consumer Warning: Some software/hardware
combinations do not work well with emulation
support

Comicbook guy weighs in: (1)

NaugaHunter (639364) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819590)

Worst. Act name. Ever.

A noble idea, with an ignoble name. Reminds me of a Pure Earth movement of some kind.

Next Gen. of Drug Wars? (2, Insightful)

mw2040 (756223) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819606)

The Pure Food and Drug Act, while seemingly innocuous in its time, paved the way for the current prohibition against certain drugs in the US (and most of the world) and led to all of the excesses and perversions of the government's "War on Drugs". How could this proposal (well-meaning and topical as it seems today) come back and bite us in the future?

Perhaps deeply immersive and psychologically convincing virtual reality of the future will be deemed to be software with the potential to cause harm and no redeeming properties. Then the government would be well within its "rights" to prohibit the software's use and impose draconian penalties for possession or distribution (especially if you have the source code).

People in 1906 let the government have say over what they put in their bodies because of fear of contamination (and outright fraud), are we going to let the government have say over what we put on our computers because of fear of ad- and spy-ware?

$make uninstall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8819634)

Oh yes! this is just what Linux needs. Legislation to force Unix developers to follow Windows conventions.

I can see it now.

$>tar -xvzf myapp.tar.gzip
$>./configure
$>make install
Warning: this program doesn't come with an uninstaller. It scatters files all over your machine in undocumented locations some of which are dependent on environment variables.
$>make uninstall
Uninstall failed.
$>

Why aren't we blaming Microsoft? (3, Interesting)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 10 years ago | (#8819635)

Ya, I use Windows XP. Even though I have a firewall and keep my patches up to date, I still get adware/spyware once in a while.

I would get 0 adware/spyware if Microsoft wrote a little bit of security into their operating system in a few ways:

- Record log of installed files (prompt for any files being installed in non-specified directlories.. ie: If realplayer trys to install realisawesome.dll in C:\windows\system32, WINDOWS itself prompts me.)

- Prompt for any programs trying to start up with the computer

- Have only one method for a program starting up with a pretty little 'startup' icon in the control panel

- Disable IE's install on demand by default (probby most common method for spyware)

- Allow users to disable popups without a fucking extra program (fuck developers and their incessant popups - MS gives way too much control to them and none to the end user)

- Have Windows control the uninstall and not some crappy script written by the same company that wrote the crappy software that user wants to uninstall cause' it was crappy

- Allow the user to enable plugins only when desired (disable flash advertisements and stuff)

- Quit allowing programs to install a shortcut in startup, the quicklaunch bar, the desktop, every goddamn folder on the computer, favorites, and quit launching a secondary program just to launch a button that launches the main program!!!

This is how you could fix things in Windows.. Linux is pre-fixed.

So, you Linux nerds, why the hell aren't we trashing Microsoft in this thread? They're fixing 'security', but not the type of shit Mr. Stupid Enduser cares about.

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