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Myware and Spyware

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the choose-but-choose-wisely dept.

The Internet 199

smooth wombat writes "A new startup aims to provide you with a piece of software that stores all of your sufing habits. Where you go, how long you stay, how many hours online you spend surfing, etc. Why? So you can then offer that information to companies in exchange for something of value. Seth Goldstein's company is in the early testing stages of a service called Root Vaults which right now only works with Firefox. You can choose whether to send this data to your Root Vault, some other service, or just store it on your computer. There are a few restrictions on the use of this data. From the article: 'Any company that uses this data must agree to four basic principles: the data is the property of the user, it can be moved from one service or device to another at will, it can be exchanged for something of value, and the user has the right to know who is using it and how.'"

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Is this really new ? (1)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510591)

I recall a company in Texas announcing this in 2003. Don't recall the name though.

Re:Is this really new ? (1)

Feminist-Mom (816033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510626)

I recall it too. It had some silly name like Trackall or something, but I guess back then AOL and others were just doing it themselves and selling it.

Re:Is this really new ? (1)

timjdot (638909) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511034)

I even paid a marketing person in 1999 to study an idea like this called "BuyMyInfo". Seems like a good idea.

First Comment?? (-1, Offtopic)

elieserleao (723504) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510595)

First Comment?? =D

How much (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14510598)

is the information of a single person really worth? I don't see how the time and effort would be worth it to install this program and then sell the data.

Re:How much (2, Informative)

croddy (659025) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510648)

it's like a focus group. the purpose is not to gain statistically significant demographic information, but rather to understand why and how people exhibit certain behaviors.

Re:How much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14510889)

I disagree. Learning about human behavoir is not why 99% of companies pay for this kind of data. It's because they need statistically significant data to help them in directing their advertising and capital in order to make more money.

Its worth a free ipod (4, Funny)

ad0gg (594412) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510670)

Send your browsing habits in and [b]complete a few easy offers[/b] and you can have a free ipod!!!

Re:How much (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511222)

Say everyone gets ten bucks. Personally, I wouldn't even consider doing it for less than fifty a month (after the whole rootkit incident, you think they'd have picked a better name), but that's aside the point. If they're able to use that $10 and watch what sites I go to and what I tend to buy online, they can target advertising with superb accuracy. I'd say it's well worth their money, especially considering my Newegg budget. Of course, if it fails to factor in my Adblock Plus and filterset.g updater (which translates to me never seeing ANY sort of adverts anywhere; ads adblock themselves just by being a part of known advertising domains or having certain keywords in the location or filename), it doesn't do them a whole lot of good. In any case, the people who are using Firefox and good adblocking extensions aren't nearly as likely to give out their viewing habits. But say that 1 in 100 people who are using IE signs up for the $10 in exchange for surfing habits. Call that two million people, give or take (probably give), just in the US. If they can go use that $20M worth of info to selectively target two hundred million internet users, it'll probably come back in tenfold pretty quickly. eBusiness isn't getting any smaller.

Re:How much (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511320)

I agree... Per person it sounds like very hard for a company to get something useful out of it.
You won't necessarily represent the average behavior at all.

Something of value? (5, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510602)

Something of value? A penny is of value. And they can require you amass 10,000 pennies to cash out your value. This clause prevents nothing.

Besides which... Companies can already obtain this information without the user knowing, why would they pay?

Value of a new lead (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14510696)

A penny is of value

Except we're all worth a hell of a lot more than that as a prospective, qualified lead. Depending on the product/service being sold, a new lead can go from $25 to several hundred dollars (higher end, more detailed data can go even higher).

I'd expect no less than $50 per vendor, to be split at some level with the information broker. Perhaps 25% to the customer from every lead, though it's getting close to "not worth my time" at $10-$15 per lead and will dillute their data with mostly lower-end leads.

Now if we can somehow work the credit agencies into this mix. They're making billions by selling your information without your permission (oh sure, you agree to release it with each vendor that reports you to the bureaus). Add to that the expense they add when they maintain incorrect information or allow their poorly secured system to be abused by identity thieves.

Grocery stores do it too. (5, Insightful)

tom2275 (863625) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510995)

The local Albertsons grocery store has the same program. You sign up for one of their "reward cards" and you get discounts off many items. On a typical $200 shopping, I'll save $15. Selling my info is worth it there, why not online?

Re:Grocery stores do it too. (4, Insightful)

the chao goes mu (700713) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511284)

Of course, in the days before discount cards they would have given those discounts to everyone and called them "sales". So, actually, they are giving out fewer discounts than they would have and getting marketing info for free.

Re:Something of value? (1)

CaptSnuffy (843104) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511123)

Companies can already obtain this information without the user knowing, why would they pay? There's some interesting irony at work here with regards to the whole p2p issue. Kind of makes it seem like the RIAA/MPAA are fighting an element of human nature.

right to know? (3, Insightful)

engagebot (941678) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510613)

"it can be exchanged for something of value, and the user has the right to know who is using it and how."

we'll see how this works. i think if they're *buying* the info from you (aka you recieve value for it), i'm not sure how much say you have over what they do with it.

Re:right to know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14510662)

And we all know what happens when people buy music/movies/games; they all end up pirated on the internet.

Re:right to know? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14510664)

Why sell it to them? Do what they do and 'LICENSE' it.

Re:right to know? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14510735)

It seems to me that they are going for the licensing bit music companies are using sort to speak. They are paying to use it but they don't own it in the end. Personally, i don't think much good can come out of this but I guess we will see. (Who's to say what my privacy is worth but yourself. To me, it's worth more then "something of value" since that value is probably very very low (info on one person is useless, you need alot of people in order for it to begin gaining some use)

Re:right to know? (1)

AdmiralWeirdbeard (832807) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510884)

not if the "sale" license is written like a software or commercial music sale license. then they would only have use of the info as long as they used it in a manner agreeable to us.
of course, the mere mention that WE might do something like this will probably get me flamed, but given that B.S. is legal, we might as well get some use out of it too.

Wow...not a bad idea (0)

vishbar (862440) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510614)

This is, surprisingly, A Good Thing. Sure it's spyware, but you can CHOOSE to put it on your computer and actually get something back. That is, of course, assuming that it does what it says it does.

fp?

Re:Wow...not a bad idea (2, Insightful)

gcw1 (914577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510680)

As far as I'm concerned spyware is never a good thing. Especially the ones that claim you have control.

Re:Wow...not a bad idea (1)

IcyNeko (891749) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510688)

Like these clever coders won't have a way to pull that data off whether or not you actually sign the agreement to sell...

Great Idea...sort of (4, Insightful)

jasongetsdown (890117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510615)

So make you info available on your own terms. Great idea, but why barter with each individual when you can still buy their info wholesale. Data wholesalers aren't just going to go away, and this still doesn't keep others from tracking you without your permission.

stupid (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14510616)

stupid

Depends on the PRize (2, Funny)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510619)

What is this thing of value? If they offer me something that I really want, I would consider it, on my work machine. No way I would let anyone monitor my home habits however. What could monitoring me at work hurt? All they would see is slashdot and various news sites....

Re:Depends on the PRize (1)

frinkacheese (790787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510661)

What exactly do you do at home, behind clsoed doors, when nobody is looking?

Re:Depends on the PRize (5, Funny)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510787)

What exactly do you do at home, behind clsoed doors, when nobody is looking?

I correct spelling and grammar on slashdot. It keeps me occupied. And you?

Spelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14511170)

Slashdot should have a capital "S" since it's a name.

Re:Depends on the PRize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14511200)

One should not start a sentence with "And" (or "But").

Unfortunately (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14510628)

Unfortunately, Firefox is already spyware [slashdot.org] . I guess open source doesn't guarantee respect of user's privacy.

Re:Unfortunately (2, Interesting)

stinerman (812158) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511336)

Yes, this was an obvious troll, but bear with me.

"Open source" only guarantees that you have access to the source, nothing more. Putting spyware in an open source app isn't the smartest idea since anyone could simply take it out and recompile the binary.

Free software will guarantee a bit more than open source. It guarantees several freedoms (of which I won't list here) and possibly in the future protection from DRM.

In short, spyware and open source are not mutually exclusive, but spyware and free software are.

Terms of Service (3, Interesting)

Mean Variance (913229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510634)

Any company that uses this data must agree to four basic principles: the data is the property of the user, it can be moved from one service or device to another at will, it can be exchanged for something of value, and the user has the right to know who is using it and how.

And some company that agrees to this (wink, wink) decides to violate those terms. Then what?

I'll keep my browsing to myself. I can see this being part of the default install from the IS department at a corporation near you.

And what if the company owns your comp? (Empolyer) (2, Insightful)

Elixon (832904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510933)

Perfect tools for watching behavior of your emplyees? Isn't it?

"Hello John, I noticed that you read the slashdot and the window with the slashdot page has a focus about 3hours average every day. You are fired." ;-)

Re:Terms of Service (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511299)

Funny, I was thinking about the same thing.. it could be used by control-freak parents who would probably never actually check the logs.. and by businesses in the same manner.

Cheat the system (3, Insightful)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510639)

Remembers me those "get paid to surf" adbars... eventually people will find a way to cheat the system to make more money, making the stats useless.

It's the new AllAdvantage.com! (2, Interesting)

sulli (195030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510702)

I bet people set up PC surfbot farms just to get paid until their VC runs out.

Re:Cheat the system (1)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511095)

Yup. This is, in general, a problem that happens whenever server software asks a bunch of client computers for information and depends on the returned results to be honest. Only this time, it doesn't seem that there would be any particular reward for, say, visiting advertising sites a particular number of times or anything like that. As long as they build their scheme such that there's no reward for browsing for more than a few hours a day they can probably avoid shenanigans aimed simply at making money. And since I really doubt that too many people are going to go out of their way to mess up this company's statistics with no profit involved, they could rest easy.

Re:Cheat the system (1)

SilverspurG (844751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511171)

If the stats are worthless then we need to add HTTP PING counters. That will fix everything.

Just Wait... (0, Redundant)

Quantum Skyline (600872) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510641)

I can predict a remote exploit in which advertisers and others will use to get your information for free.

Frequent Shopping Card @ Grocery Store (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510647)

This reminds me of the frequent shopping card you can use at the grocery store. I don't have one of those (I actually just use one of my parent's phone numbers for the discounts).

I think I'd be happy to trade my browsing patterns in exchange for something. I already don't mind advertisements on websites that I like (and if they have ads that seem interesting to me, I will always not only click the ads but try to make a purchase if I like the product/price.). I don't mind cookies or any of that stuff. I know it is there, and I don't really care what they do with my "information" as I don't have anything to lose in the lifestyle I live.

I actually support these "invasios of privacy" as they help bring me a better browsing experience when people know what I am looking for and are out there supporting (through AdSense or direct advertising) the content creators I go to every day. I subscribe to /. but I still click links that interest me -- do you? I've made purchases through /. and told the advertiser it was because of slashdot that I found them and that I support them.

I don't support spyware though, unless I know I can get something out of it. I'd give up all my browsing experience in exchange for a little residual return -- maybe if I knew what ad clicks earned the site, or if I knew that I had an effect on what advertisers would offer me.

My big hope for AdSense this year is that Google goes beyond contextual targetting, but also finds a way for users to "vote" certain ads up and down based on their identity. I don't need to see some ads, but I'll be happy to support advertisers who know what I want and support the sites I visit.

Re:Frequent Shopping Card @ Grocery Store (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14510877)

I actually support these "invasios of privacy" as they help bring me a better browsing experience
Wow. I can't stand spyware. I hate having to be the person to spend hours of my time ridding someone's computer of it. Have you ever seen a computer that has run unprotected for a day? It makes the computer unusable. Slow, pop-ups every two seconds, taskbar filled with dogs and blinking lightbulbs and whatever - it drives me nuts! I cannot see how that "betters my online experience" when I can't even get online without a reformat.

Re:Frequent Shopping Card @ Grocery Store (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510966)

The difference is spyware that tries to hide itself, and myware which you opt-in on without some fraudulent click-through backdoor.

Honestly, I don't get spyware -- ever. Neither does almost anyone in my family except for my 14 year old sister who won't stop browsing stupidly. Of course, I just ghost her hard drive and reinstall it about once a month whenever I'm over there.

I'll accept trading my browsing habits with a reputable company. I run the Google Toolbar and would give them MORE of my information as I have so far not been screwed by Google. I wouldn't install software willy-nilly without knowing what I get in exchange for it.

Re:Frequent Shopping Card @ Grocery Store (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510887)

Don't fill out your parents' phone number. Make up a clearly bogus one, it's much more satisfying.

My Waldbaums card is the proud property of OSCAR GROUCH at 123 SEASAME STREET. Phone number? (123) 456-7890, of course.

Re:Frequent Shopping Card @ Grocery Store (2, Funny)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511167)

When I read the phone number, I couldn't help singing it. Only there aren't enough digits in a standard US phone number to sing, "One two three fouuuur five, six seven eight niiiine ten, eleven twelve."

Re:Frequent Shopping Card @ Grocery Store (3, Funny)

the chao goes mu (700713) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511345)

Singing? 867-5309.

Re:Frequent Shopping Card @ Grocery Store (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510895)

I remember a story about a guy who was accused of arson because he had purchased the same type of firestarter on his frequent shopper card that was used to burn down his home. Guy just comes home from work one day and the cops show up and take him to jail where he stays for several months. He would have been in there for a lot of years if someone else hadn't eventually admitted to it.

Re:Frequent Shopping Card @ Grocery Store (1)

AceCaseOR (594637) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510978)

I believe I've heard the same story, but it was a credit card, not a frequent shopper card.

Has anyone seen anything on Snopes about this?

Re:Frequent Shopping Card @ Grocery Store (1)

Chalex (71702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511037)

I think I'd be happy to trade my browsing patterns in exchange for something.
But you already DO! You know those sale prices they have that you can't get without the card? That's what you get.

Air Miles (1)

PhYrE2k (302644) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511261)

What do you think airmiles is? They get a copy of what you buy and build a profile on you, then market to you accordingly. It's selling your privacy that you bought a family-pack of condoms last time you went to the local store... Expect lots of interesting ads next time around.

I suspect a complete non-starter. (5, Insightful)

Control Group (105494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510651)

What value is there in my personal data? How important is highly-specific tracking data on one person? The value of marketing data, in my understanding, is in being able to match marketing to potentially profitable demographics. As such, personal data is highly valuable in volume, but I doubt the value of any individual's information. My grocery store is willing to give me a couple bucks in discounts every couple weeks to track my purchasing habits. At a guess, I'd say it would amount to maybe ~$100/yr if I took them up on it.

But that's a long way from actually paying me money. And even if real cash were involved, how many people are going to trust the system enough and go to the effort of proactively doing this for the prospect of an extra $100/yr?

My guess is, not enough people to make the marketing data harvested worth the money or effort. And that's not even considering that companies are more than capable of getting most of this information already at no cost...

But I could be way off base, or missing something.

Re:I suspect a complete non-starter. (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510816)

And even if real cash were involved, how many people are going to trust the system enough and go to the effort of proactively doing this for the prospect of an extra $100/yr?

Every broke college student with student loans and credit card bills. Heck, they'll find a way to have more than one profile so they can rake in the dough.

Re:I suspect a complete non-starter. (1)

ShibaInu (694434) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510841)

While one individual's data might not be worth much, the browsing habits of thousands of people could be very valuable. How often to users click on ad links? Do you click on Google's sponsor links? Do you visit sites that advertise more then you click on word of mouth sites?

It seems to me that this kind of information would be valuable to a company thinking about advertising on the net.

Re:I suspect a complete non-starter. (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510934)

My grocery store is willing to give me a couple bucks in discounts every couple weeks to track my purchasing habits. At a guess, I'd say it would amount to maybe ~$100/yr if I took them up on it.

It's more valuble than you realize.

Just look at all the loyalty programs, which are all in essence the same thing as this proposal. I know for instance, with my grocery store loyalty program [airmiles.ca] , I earn enough points every year to get two free round-trip airline flights, each of which is worth around 600 bucks.

Re:I suspect a complete non-starter. (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511043)

Wow

I want in on your grocery store loyalty program. If mine offered that kind of incentive, I'd actually be willing to trade my info for it. As it stands, my store indicates on every receipt how much I would have saved if I had their card. I haven't tracked it carefully, but I've never seen a total higher than $10 (and that was including a BOGO offer on a 1/2-gallon ice cream buy), and generally see in the vicinity of $2 (these numbers on ~$80/trip).

I'm sure I could arrange for more by trying to time purchases to when things were discounted...but I can't stand poring over weekly circulars to find out. I just go to check things off my grocery list.

So it's Spyware... (1)

Basecamp88 (932192) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510666)

...but you agree to it in exchange for targetted advertising. And the companies who will review your surfing habits may or may not offer you a good deal which seems to be this company's definition of "something of value"

$$$=Good (1)

stavromueller (934803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510667)

Well, if the price is right, I wouldn't object to using a service like this. Sounds like a good use of the spyware concept.

5th provision (4, Insightful)

jasongetsdown (890117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510681)

I'd like a 5th provision to the agreement. The data will not be linked to my identity. I don't mind providing anonymous stats but I want at least a little privacy.

Google is all over this market. (1, Informative)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510691)

They're going to have a tough time competing with the vast amounts of data that Google is collecting on everyone and has been collecting for some time.

http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

It was in Slashdot just this morning! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14510759)

www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/13657303. htm

A few stories down is one about George W. wanting Google's search records so he can keep porn away from the kiddies.

Anyone who thinks he is anonymous on the internet is poorly informed.

Anyway, you're right. Google has this totally nailed. Anyone else has an uphill battle.

Make it up (3, Funny)

matt me (850665) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510695)

We all know the web isn't the "click here for free mony [sic]" place pop-ups have led us to believe. In deed putting adverts on your personal website, sending free ipod links, selling spam emails, google referrals, beanz, whatever you don't earn money like this. But anyway, why can't we just make up some data and then send it?

Who owns the information? (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510709)

I really wonder who owns the information being brokered. It leads me to a lot of questions... some not related to this topic specifically though.

One question I ask myself is if I can copyright my personal data. And when I see the information being misused, can I then sue for copyright infringement?

Re:Who owns the information? (3, Informative)

31415926535897 (702314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510801)

One question I ask myself is if I can copyright my personal data. And when I see the information being misused, can I then sue for copyright infringement?

That's a really good idea, but I am pretty sure that your personal data would be classified as fact and therefore not "copyrightable." Although, watch for the lawsuits against MLB and the MLBPA for the licensing of player statistics. If the MLB wins, then I think you have a good case for copyrighting your personal data.

Re:Who owns the information? (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510981)

Maps are representation of Fact. Dictionaries are representation of fact. Almanacs... encyclopedias... owner's manuals... All are publishings of fact, yet all are copyrighted...

Re:Who owns the information? (1)

Quarters (18322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511135)

The facts are not copyrighted, it's the presentation of the facts that are under copyright.

Almost all classical music is within the public domain. That doesn't mean I can go out and start broadcasting or charging admission to hear Beethoven's 9th off of a CD I just purchased at Sam Goody. The music is copyright free but the performance by the orchestra that recorded the CD is copyrightable. If I want a truly free version of the music I have to either buy a royalty free version of it or hire my own orchestra to perform it.

Re:Who owns the information? (1)

xiphoris (839465) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511193)

The application of copyright to "facts" is largely set by precedent in Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service [wikipedia.org] .

It was decided in the case that facts themselves cannot be copyrightable, but some sort of collection, if novel, can be. From the article:
It is a long-standing principle of United States copyright law that "information" is not copyrightable, O'Connor notes, but "collections" of information can be. Rural claimed a collection copyright in its directory. The court clarified that the intent of copyright law was not, as claimed by Rural and some lower courts, to reward the efforts of persons collecting information, but rather "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" (U.S. Const. 1.8.8), that is, to encourage creative expression.

Since facts are purely copied from the world around us, O'Connor concludes, "the sine qua non of copyright is originality". However, the standard for creativity is extremely low. It need not be novel, rather it only needs to possess a "spark" or "minimal degree" of creativity to be protected by copyright.

n regard to collections of facts, O'Connor states that copyright can only apply to the creative aspects of collection: the creative choice of what data to include or exclude, the order and style in which the information is presented, etc., but not on the information itself.
With respect to this precedent I hardly see how anyone could claim that factual statistics about players should be subject copyright. But, hey, law does seem to follow big business interests in the US.

Root Vault (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510716)

Can you get that in a kit?

Re:Root Vault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14510754)

Go to a music store and buy any CD published by Sony.

How much is it worth? (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510729)

My guess is that personal information on things like browsing habits is pretty cheap. Only in the aggregate (10s of thousands) is it worth anything. I can't imagine anyone paying cash for one particular person's browser history.

Unless, of course, it included passwords and bank account details. I wonder how much I can sell my neighbor's discarded bank statements for?

(:-) for the smiley impaired.)

Incoming! (2, Funny)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510744)

A perl script to automatically surf pages on a spare machine and fill this thing up with valid-looking but nonetheless phony data, in 5... 4... 3...

Re:Incoming! (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510797)

Yessssssssssss!!!!! Got an old HP sitting at home with nothing to do... Hehehe...

Re:Incoming! (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510863)

A perl script to automatically surf pages on a spare machine and fill this thing up with valid-looking but nonetheless phony data, in 5... 4... 3...

Even better: Get poor people in foreign countries hooked up to cheap windoze boxes, and have them surf at high speed with tabs 8 hours a day.

Spam Incoming! (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511060)

A perl script to automatically surf pages on a spare machine and fill this thing up with valid-looking but nonetheless phony data, in 5... 4... 3...

And just how do you think you are going to know about all of those offers of "something of value"? Imagine all of the marketing firms offering you great discounts on XYZ you have no interest in buying. Unless the offer is hard cash only, this service will equal one huge billboard for you to look at.

It's like being a Nielsen household... (1)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510748)

It's just like being a Nielsen household, but being able to choose afterwards to participate, instead of having to be selected beforehand.

Your Tivo's know what you watch for a while now.

The biggest concern I have is the potential for unwanted exposure of the data, via worm or "hacker".

more than what you watch (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511257)

what you even 'repeat' for a few seconds..
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9584_22-5154219.html [zdnet.com]

TiVo said users had watched the skin-baring incident nearly three times more than any other moment during the Super Bowl broadcast, sparking headlines that dramatically publicized the power of the company's longstanding data-gathering practices.

Value is in the aggregate numbers not individuals (1)

xoip (920266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510768)

Market research has little value if the sample size is not large enough. So basically this guy is aggregating a bunch of people...pooling the data which has huge value then splitting the proceeds...great move if he can pull it off but just how many people are willing to hand over private info for a couple of bucks.
Last focus group I attended paid me $100.00 and lunch for an hour of my time and my opinion on politics of the day. I doubt the payout would be anywhere near that in this case.

MyHome (1)

drakethegreat (832715) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510780)

Why not create the next product in the line up and name it MyHome. They can setup hidden cameras in people's houses which send information and video to companies who wish to pay for it so they can target more ads and find more ways for me to send my hard earned funds on stuff that doesn't matter.

Sure, buddy (1)

14erCleaner (745600) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510793)

And for an extra fee, I suppose you want to take videos in my bedroom too.

No thanks, Google is already monitoring my browsing habits. I wouldn't want to make them mad.

Re:Sure, buddy (1)

SilverspurG (844751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511281)

Read what else Mr. Goldstein is involved in by Googling. His business ventures are clearly at odds with any real effort to safeguard users.

Is this the same fellow who teaches at CMU? Looking at the Google pages, if it's all the same gentlemen, he has about 5 different paychecks. He must be loaded.

Sell Yourself (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510800)

Seth Goldstein's Bubble startup, also called "Root", was an "online concierge" service. Root would store your personal data at its server, using it to deal with all your customer service requests to any companies you had business with. Root would also market services from those businesses to its members. The problem was that "one man's synergy is another man's conflict of interest". Root folded before it went fully live, but its conflict of interest in protecting members' private info would have interfered with their other business interests: selling that info. If Goldstein's new venture is to be trusted, protecting its members' data must be verifiable, and breaches of that protection must be accountable. The new version incents members to give out their data, but members must be sure that all those releases are authorized - and that the costs of longterm exposed privacy are worth the benefits of immediate marketing perks.

something of value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14510803)

Like maybe a court order [slashdot.org] ?

What exactly is this value that you speak of? (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510814)

If you are going to write an article about the value of something, please define EXACTLY what value is.

This article gives no specific examples of what you would receive in exchange for these companies spying on you. All they use are buzzwords like 'something of value' or 'a lower rate or a special deal' which could mean something as lame as 10% off your next purchase.

This fact alone makes me think that it is probably not worth it.

It has value (1)

GmAz (916505) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510827)

You could use it to track what your child does on the internet. Or a company can use it to see where it's employees are surfing to. There's lots of uses for it.

Here are my details. (1)

Galston (895804) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510830)

Name: Mr Joey Joe-Joe Junior Shabidooo
Age: 49
Sex: Female
Address: 1 Main Street
                Townsville
                Local County
Tele: 0123456789

Hobbies and Interests: Internet dating, puppies and morris dancing.

Now give me my money.

Re:Here are my details. (1)

MikeWasHere05 (900478) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511066)

We sent it to the address you provided.

;)

Tinfoil-hat Comment (2, Insightful)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510849)

"A new startup aims to provide you with a piece of software that stores all of your sufing habits. Where you go, how long you stay, how many hours online you spend surfing, etc. Why?"

Here's few why:

- So it can gain user's trust, but is in fact glorified spyware
- So police has an easy storage to inspect should RIAA/MPAA decide to sue you for visiting pirate torrent trackers, grokster.com or other such activity (hey, you're not anonymous! they, OMG, they got your IP!!)
- So malware has an easy storage to collect user info for it and send it out, instead of collecting it itself.

Company watches you (1)

Elixon (832904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510860)

I can imagine that my boss installs it on my computer.

Maybe he will find out that I read slashdot too often!

I guess that such as statistics can be more verbose about employee's behavior then some proxy statistics.

A sign of the apocalypse (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510876)

Companies are now willing to pay us to look at porn.

This is stupid (0)

kadathseeker (937789) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510883)

Who would want spyware? I spend all of my time killing it on school pcs (not on Macs...). Are companies really that interested in SpySpace, eBay, Amazon, and pr0n? Because that's what people do. Well, for me replace the first three with /., webcomics, and Wikipedia. I think I saw this on /. somewhere: "Lie, lie, lie / about your age, gender, race / throw a monkey wrench / in their database" Genius.

Hmm... (1)

kpang (860416) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510907)

Just waiting for the first person to secretly install this "myware" on all his coworkers / servers / friends / family's machines and reap a massive profit.

AllAdvantage All Over Again...? (1)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510948)

Does anybody here remember AllAdvantage.Com? :)

Re:AllAdvantage All Over Again...? (1)

gallwapa (909389) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511004)

I was about to post hte same thing - I remember doing it. All Advantage wasnt a bad deal - infact, I made a VB script that navigated me around the net, I left it on all night, and I got one single $268 check from them. Then they closed, along with the rest of the little banner-pushing bastards

Re:AllAdvantage All Over Again...? (1)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511305)

Actually, I made a good number of nice sized checks off of them, and I didn't even have to cheat the system. I found that if just ran it for an hour or two every day I would get my max of 40 hours for the month (which is all they would pay you for) and I preached this to my somewhat large downline (over 1000 members).

I just knew from the onset it was a business model that was going to collapse because I was only doing it for the money. I wasn't paying any attention to the banners and almost never clicked on them. I figured nobody else was either, and in time their advertiser revenue would dry up and they'd fold. They did.

Oh yeah? Does it have any teeth? (1)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14510983)

Any company that uses this data must agree to four basic principles
But does it have any teeth? If not it's about as useful as CAN SPAM act.

finally, software for sufis (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14510987)

"a piece of software that stores all of your sufing habits."

As a whirling dervish [dankphotos.com] , I've been looking forward to software to keep track of my total number of spins.

And the best part... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14511024)

How long will it be before a piece of spyware or a virus comes along that targets this software and steals the data directly from this app?

Data Theft (1)

aramel (947280) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511176)

So if one were to install this program and any information thereafter was considered my property, would companies not given express permission who gather my data be vulnerable to legal action? I mean, more than just mining my data to sell off to the highest bidder could I take my information, store it on my harddrive/wherever and do nothing with it--with the knowledge that no one else can _legally_ gather information on me, unless I give them permission (ie. Google)?

Only Firefox? (1)

Crazyscottie (947072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511303)

...which right now only works with Firefox.

I find this surprising being that Internet Exploder still controls a huge majority of the browser market share. I could understand a non-profit web developer coding to standards first and then hacking for IE, but for a startup company, I'd think you'd want to get the largest amount of users possible straight from the get-go. Just doesn't seem logical.

Sems stupid to me. (1)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14511356)

I can't understand how anyone would be comfortable selling this data, but I don't understand how people can sell blood plasma either, so meh.
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