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Cingular, Others Fined For Using Adware

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the about-time dept.

Spam 109

amigoro writes "Cingular, Priceline, and Travelocity have been fined for using adware by the New York Attorney General. The companies will each pay $30K to $35K as penalties and investigatory costs. More importantly, the companies agreed to a series of restrictions and best practices that, while they make eminent sense to consumers, will be loathsome to businesses accustomed to having their way with our computers."

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109 comments

How much did they make from it? (5, Insightful)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808740)

If it was more than 30-35K, this is only a cost of doing business.

Re:How much did they make from it? (5, Insightful)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808776)

Yes, but they agreed to restrictions limiting the kinds of adware they can peddle. If they violate them, they will be violating an injunction and can face very steep penalties.

Re:How much did they make from it? (4, Insightful)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808798)

Dont worry, We'll absorb their mistakes.

Thats what sheeple are for.

Re:How much did they make from it? (-1, Troll)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17811174)

lulz abound. the moderators are so stupid. your post was insightful. i just made some shit up on the spot and got karma. please mod me down, idiots.

Re:How much did they make from it? (3, Interesting)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#17811780)

Well, you really oughtta read my journal. Problem is Im a known troll, and many people dont like that.

That and also people have low intelligence and retention spans. If they understood, they would understand that Corporations pay no taxes, no fines, and no other forms of monetary penalties. Thats because it's offloaded to the customers every time.

But *im* a troll, so nothing I write is valid.

Re:How much did they make from it? (1)

Night Goat (18437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17813522)

But see, that's the thing. Sure, the companies can offload taxes, fines, and the other costs of doing business to the customers. But unless they've got no competitors, these expenses hurt their bottom line. If they have to raise the price of their widgets $5 to offset their expenses, but their competitors are only raising the price $2, then the advantage is with their competitors. Hence why there's so much outsourcing. Less expenses mean a more competitive product. I read your journal, nothing there except how easy it is to troll Slashdot. Wait a minute, am I being trolled? Oh crap, I walked right into that one!

Re:How much did they make from it? (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818538)

No, this case highlights exactly why Rand-style laisssez-faire capitalism can't work. Let's say company A gets sued has has to raise the price of their widgets by $5. Company B won't stop at $2 just to maintain a competitive advantage. You see, both companies' goals are to make money, not competitive advantage. So Company B will convert their advantage into as much money as they possibly can. The lawsuit's conclusion gives Companies B-G a price to price fix on. The price will settle at the new price, even when Company A finishes paying restitution.

You see this all the time, especially in low priced commodities, where having money around for R&D isn't particularly important, and where market share is simply a matter of irrational preference.

Re:How much did they make from it? (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#17819130)

I guess when you look at it, Capitalism just doesnt work.. Of course the other choices work worse (communism, socialism, and facism).

And if I remember correctly, there was an earlier story about Wal-Mart and comodity goods: they tested by raising prices on certain commodity goods and saw no change in buying patterns. It seems peoples prefrences were stronger than the price increase, so Wal-mart is rolling out this kind of geographical discriminate pricing (between 2 low income counties that have different prefrences). Kind of evil, but nonetheless legal. I guess it pisses me off about Wal-Mart how they used to give back to communities, but now they do not at all. After Sam died, the company changed. Really changed.

And as a note, I wasnt trolling here, as I usually post a troll as a near-FP with the oposite what the moderators/Story poster want, yet at the same time, hard to refute. You know, blatant stuff like that and all.

Re:How much did they make from it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817270)

Don't worry, I am ready to go into battle against corporate America with tear-filled eyes and a scream on my face and spill blood through lots of suits if you can just kindly point out the direction for me to take the killings in.

After all, that is what sheep like me are for.

Re:How much did they make from it? (3, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808994)

If it was more than 30-35K, this is only a cost of doing business.

I'm 100% sure that Cingular/AT&T makes more than that in one minute selling the usage stats and personal information of their customers. Why the fuck isn't the AG going after them for that opt-out "experience"?

Obligatory speculation: How did this happen? (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810912)

Well, Cingular top executives were sitting around in a restaurant one day, and one of them said, "How can we permanently lower our sales to computer professionals?" One of them said, "Maybe we can get ourselves on Slashdot for doing evil, mean, sneaky, and nasty things". The others said, "Great. That's it." And they all congratulated themselves for selling their souls to the devil, got drunk as skunks, and made lewd remarks to the waitress. Just at that moment there was the smell of burning sulfur in the air.

That's my theory about how it happened. Any other ideas? I realize that I have already stated the most likely scenario, and that it will be difficult to discover a more plausible one.

--
U.S. government violence in Iraq causes more violence, not peaceful democracy.

Re:Obligatory speculation: How did this happen? (2, Funny)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812932)

Well, Cingular top executives were sitting around in a restaurant one day, and one of them said, "How can we permanently lower our sales to computer professionals?"
-- Who gives a shit about those? said the most junior executive. They're always bitching and moaning and they nitpick through our customer service contracts. It's a crowd we'd rather not have.

-- Yeah, that's true. Let's ditch the computer pro market, they're geeks anyways!

Way to punish them. (0, Flamebait)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808758)

Ooooh, $30K fine. That's hardly a punishment. In fact, it might encourage them to release more invasive spyware, since it'll only cost them $30K.

The money is trivial, what really hit them... (4, Informative)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808792)

is the agreement they were forced to sign. If you RTFA:

The three companies have agreed to only advertise through companies that provide to consumers full disclosure of the name of the applicable adware program and any bundled software, brand each advertisement with a prominent and easily identifiable brand name or icon and fully describe the adware and obtain consumer consent to both download and run the adware. Advertising companies must make it practicable for consumers to remove the adware from their computers, obtain consent to continue serving ads to legacy users and require their affiliates to meet all of these same requirements. The agreements also require Priceline, Travelocity, and Cingular to engage in due diligence with respect to selecting and utilizing adware providers. Prior to contracting with a company to deliver their ads, and quarterly thereafter, the companies must investigate how their online ads are delivered. The companies must immediately cease using adware programs that violate the settlement agreements or their own adware policies.

Fallout from HP pretexting imbroglio..... (2, Insightful)

AetherBurner (670629) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809196)

I wonder if lessons were learned from the HP affair? Now making your contractors and subcontractors be ethical is good. This is like the seat belt law here in Wisconsin. If a car full gets pulled over and none have their belts on, the driver will only find moths left their wallet after the fines are paid. It is about time and, plus, I have absolutely no symphathy for Cingular/Southern Boys Club/Another Terrible Telephone at all - they deserved the leash. The fine is chump pocket change. Now I wonder what will happen when they inevitably screw up and the leash is pulled back hard. Now that is the question.

In comparison (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17811012)

I'm looking forward to my 45 second murder sentence, after which I'll sign an agreement saying that I'll never do that again.

As I said I'm looking forward my another 45 second murder sentence, after which I'll sign an agreement saying that I'll never do it yet again.

As I said...

Re:Way to punish them. (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808822)

While the fine is low, the restrictions that are being placed on them are troublesome.

I'm not saying they got what they deserved, but the bulk of the punishment was definately in the restrictions.

How dare they use AG's adware (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17808760)

["Cingular, Priceline, and Travelocity have been fined for using adware by the New York Attorney General.]

Silly people, they should have used adware by someone other than AG himself.

Re:How dare they use AG's adware (1)

Veinor (871770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809216)

However, in their defense, "Standard Oil, the Carnegie Steel Company, the East India Trading Company, have all used adware on a far broader scale..."

Prosecutors can't 'fine' (2, Insightful)

The Monster (227884) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812490)

Perhaps, instead of

Cingular, Priceline, and Travelocity have been fined for using adware by the New York Attorney General.
what they really meant was

Cingular, Priceline, and Travelocity have been fined by the New York Attorney General for using adware.
No, that doesn't make sense either. A state AG can't fine anyone. He's a prosecutor, not a judge or jury. What could the true meaning of this be? Could it be that this is a settlement, agreed to by the AG and the three companies in question? Yes. Yes it could.

Re:How dare they use AG's adware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17818772)

But why did the AG make Adware in the first place?

First we take Manhattan, then we take Lagos (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17808772)

Now if they could only go after this Col. Motumbwe who keeps emailing me about his bank...

the popup comes in --- (4, Funny)

notoriousE (723905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808796)

"there is a problem with your registry, click here to get a NEW BLACKBERRY from Cingular!"

meanwhile.. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17808826)

.. A homeless man in N.Y.C was charged 400,000 per music download by the MAFIAA. He said he doesn't even own a computer.

$35K? How about $350 million? (1)

liftphreaker (972707) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808840)

35K is not even a slap on the wrist. It's pocket change for Cingular, and this will only encourage them to do more nasty stuff like this since they can get away with nothing. How about a $350 million fine instead?

Re:$35K? How about $350 million? (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810008)

The 35K is to cover investigative costs, ect.

That pales in comparison to the business they've just lost by getting caught with their pants down like this though.

Exclusive contract for the iPhone ?
I don't want an iPhone if I have to use a carrier that puts adware on my stuff.
Is that why it's not going to allow 3rd party applications on it ?
They don't want me finding the adware they've put on it ?

This little blunder raises alot of questions.

Re:$35K? How about $350 million? (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821460)

I don't want an iPhone if I have to use a carrier that puts adware on my stuff.

Considering that most others also despise adware, I think it is fair to expect that Apple will put some additional pressure on Cingular to clean up their act. Apple can be demanding of those they do business with. Apple is more likely to have some effect than us lowly consumers.

Apple has shown itself to be one of the more sensitive companies when it comes to anticipating and paying attention to what consumers like (and hate). Such behavior really makes good business sense, but the larger telecommunications companies (phone/cellular/ISP/cable etc) seem to feel they're big enough that it doesn't matter.

An example of where Apple stood out ahead of the pack comes to mind in the case of banner ads. Some sites run movieclips or animation (usually Flash) that start playing on their own and are often very annoying (especially those with audio).
Ads containing an Apple video were among the first I saw that used a PLAY button, actually giving me a choice if I wanted them to play. They also don't repeat endlessly. While I've never seen the annoying buzzing "swat the fly, win a prize" type ads on Slashdot, there have been some of those Flash animations that run endlessly. Left with such a page open, my older laptop gets hot, turns on the fan, and runs the battery down noticeably faster. That isn't the way to endear me to a product or site.

Of course, with the changes in Washington, it is a good time for all of us to whine loudly to our elected officials about every form of tech-related injustice, whether it be restraint of trade/competition in the cellular business through unreasonable use of long contracts, opt-out practices in selling personal info, or FCC regulatory changes that brought us infomercials, drug ads, reduced diversity and depth in local news... and continued PAID political ads (without which most of the soul-selling campaign finance behaviour wouldn't occur).

Is that why it's not going to allow 3rd party applications on it ?
They don't want me finding the adware they've put on it ?


Apple is likely having to fight AT&T over offering some functionality, but I expect they'll be able to go beyond what others have been able to do. For reasons of stability a phone shouldn't be a totally open platform. Odds are good we'll see some well-tested Apple blessed enhancements made available, perhaps in a way similar to the games offered for recent iPods.
If there is adware, I don't see why you'd need a 3rd party app to find it. Adware would likely find YOU.
Macs certainly are no haven for adware, there isn't any reason to believe Apple would choose to make it a problem in any of their other products. More ligitimate exposure, perhaps through Google and under user control, is what the iPhone demo suggested. There's nothing wrong with making it easy to locate and call your local Starbucks or pizza shop.

(I wonder if anyone has ever patented the idea of having a phone let out trace scents of pizza or other foods to motivate users that are near a vendor... hmmmm. All this talk about evil deeds leads to some evil ideas I guess.)

Re:$35K? How about $350 million? (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818102)

Congressman: The AG is right! Adware is a horrible vice!
Congressman 2: Adware killed my father and raped my mother!

[Gasps]

Congressman Frank: Gentlemen, I propose we send a message to tobacco companies everywhere by fining these companies infinity billion dollars!

Congressman 3: That's the spirit, Frank! But I think a real number might be more effective. All in favor of fining these evil telecom giants $100 million, say "Aye"!

AKA Taxes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17808888)

Who gets this money?

RE: Who would install anything from them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17808912)

Why would one need to install anything from these companies? Does anyone know any more details?

The article is pretty light on the details...

not even a bother (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808914)

a company like cingular won't even care about 35k, hell they would drop that on a 60 second ad on tv. and those restrictions.. what a joke. they shouldn't be allowed to invade my pc with advertisments fullstop.

Ok then. (1)

Thirdsin (1046626) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808918)

30-35K is just a drop in the bucket for these companies. Unless that penalty is changed I believe a dangerous precedent has been established. Giving companies a one-time slap on the wrist for their first offense is useless.
We need see a proliferation of these lawsuits against companies knowingly engaging in this type of advertising practice. Increase the damages to the millions of dollars and then watch the large corporates perk up their ears...

Now only if the AG made a case against some spammers...

Re:Ok then. (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810000)

I agree.
There should have been no settlement allowed.
If i had put in a rootkit, i would have been jailed for 10 years.
Would i be able to reach a "settlement" for hacking?

Although i despise spammers, i wish to know how they cannot reach a settlement, while companies like these can?

These should have been convicted for unlawful breaking into property, and the CEO/CTO sentenced to 10 years like other spammers.

How come when corporates commit crimes like taking investors for a ride, spamming them, putting rootkits(sony are you listening?), individuals who try to hack(and fail) are sentenced to jail?

Re:Ok then. (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 7 years ago | (#17823294)

For cingular^HATT i propose a real evil "fine" mandate that everybody that wants to break their contract (exclude those under 6 months) within the next 8 months gets a "free pass" (no cancellation fee) ATT is allowed to try to keep those customers but they can not do any B&S tricks

Thanks again to the NY Attorney General (2, Interesting)

Jeff1946 (944062) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808954)

This is just one of many cases where the NY Attorney General is doing what the Federal Govt should be doing instead of taking away our rights. I would love to see a pro active US Attorney Gereral going after big business abusing consumers the way that has happened in NY. Oops I forgot he and his boss are from the party of the rich and selfish.

Re:Thanks again to the NY Attorney General (2, Funny)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809012)

I love our dual and mutually exclusive stereotypes of the Republican party. First, its the dumb hicks out in the boonies (who, btw, generally don't have a whole lot of money, generally quite a bit less than people in the cities, and furthermore are often quite nice people), then its the rich and selfish (who, btw, usually don't get to be rich and selfish by living out in the boonies and being ignorant).

I'm not a Republican (nor am I a Democrat, yay George Washington and the no-parties-at-all-would-be-desirable stance), but I still find /.'s collective opinion of the Republican party amusing.

Re:Thanks again to the NY Attorney General (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17809110)

The republican party consists of 20% rich and selfish and 80% dumb and ignorant people. The 20% control the 80%. As a whole you get a bunch of greedy rich people convincing a whole lot more poor stupid peole that they know what's best for them. Yeehaw.

Re:Thanks again to the NY Attorney General (2, Insightful)

rednip (186217) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809522)

but I still find /.'s collective opinion of the Republican party amusing.

You don't have to go any father than talk radio or Fox news to see daily exercise of the over sized counter weight of republican slander of the Democratic party, hell, it's even a long standing talking point to mis-pronounce it.

I find it amusing that whenever someone on this board 'stands up' for the Republican party, they always insist that they are, and forever have been independent, or Libertarian. I cannot recall one person on any discussion who claims to be an active loyal Republican. Anyone with an well used account want to stand up and admit not only being Republican, but an active supporter of at least their party leadership if not the Bush administration?

Re:Thanks again to the NY Attorney General (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17809776)

I am a Republican, an active supporter of the party leadership and an active supporter of the Bush Administration.

What, Anonymous Coward doesn't count as a well-used account?

Re:Thanks again to the NY Attorney General (2, Insightful)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809680)

They're not mutually exclusive, they're simply non-continuous. Those two groups you described are two of the major groups in the Republican party. That's like saying black people and Jewish people are mutually exclusive stereotypes of the Democratic party.

Re:Thanks again to the NY Attorney General (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17810170)

You shold look at the Republican (and Democratic) party's actual demographics. The slashdot stereotype you mention isn't too far off, though I'm hesitant to call poor/lower-middle class Southerners 'hicks'.

If you look at the demographics, you'll see that the richest people are, on average, Republicans. (There are some notable exceptions among America's billionaires -- I'm talking about the millionaires and up here.) Rich Jewish people are an exception to this rule.

Upper and middle middle tends to be Democratic, especially in dense eastern cities.

Lower-middle to poor is divided geographically. Southerners and other rural lower-middles tend to be Republicans. Urban lower-middles and poor tend to be Democrats. Though there are plenty of exceptions here. (For instance, Oregon is divided by party -- shit, I'm not sure how to put it except to say that roughly half of the urban dwellers are Republicans, Democrats; roughly half of the rural dwellers are Republicans, Democrats; the rest are anarchists, communists, and greens)

Re:Thanks again to the NY Attorney General (1)

RadioTV (173312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17813202)

First, its the dumb hicks out in the boonies (who, btw, generally don't have a whole lot of money, generally quite a bit less than people in the cities
People who live in rural areas aren't any dumber (or smarter) than people who live in the cities. And while they usually don't make as much money as people who live in large cities, the cost of living is lower.

I love our dual and mutually exclusive stereotypes of the Republican party
The Republican party appeals to two groups of people. The first is (some) people who have a lot of money and are looking to keep it all to them selves. The second group is people tho are swayed by social wedge issues like abortion, gay rights, etc.

The Republican Alliance (1)

wytcld (179112) | more than 7 years ago | (#17813638)

The Republican Party's current strength is in an alliance between big corporate power and big "born again" power. That's where the stereotypes of "rich and selfish" and "dumb hicks out in the boonies" both get attached. While the stereotypes are crass, they do point to the two main pillars of party support. These two very-different groups are united mostly in their desire to attain control - something neither of them could succeed at on their own. They are also united in their desire to undermine science where it threatens their control - whether that's the science of climate change or the science of evolution. But really most CEO types and most evangelical types would have very little to say to each other if they ever showed up at the same social occasion outside of a GOP convention. It's the ultimate marriage of convenience. Hopefully there will be a divorce soon.

Re:Thanks again to the NY Attorney General (1)

durdur (252098) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815552)

It is a weird coalition of those who think conservatism means things like being anti gay/abortion/sex-ed/birth control, and those who think conservatism means letting rich selfish guys stay rich and selfish. It is weird, and not very logical, but this coalition has elected several presidents and quite a few congressmen.

Re:Thanks again to the NY Attorney General (3, Informative)

ffsnjb (238634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809108)

Oops I forgot he and his boss are from the party of the rich and selfish.

You do know that Elliot Spitzer (Governor, prior AG) and Andrew Cuomo are Democrats, right?

Re:Thanks again to the NY Attorney General (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17809440)

Democrat, Republican, same difference. They're both rich and selfish, right?

Re:Thanks again to the NY Attorney General (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810080)

Ah yes, the old Republican vs Democrat rope-a-dope, I know it well.

Re:Thanks again to the NY Attorney General (1)

ffsnjb (238634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810164)

Barking up the wrong tree, man. If I had my way, every single elected official in the federal and state governments in the US would be barred from ever holding public office again after their terms are finished. But I don't have that power. I hate Dems and Repubs just as equally. I was just trying to point out the inconsistency of the parent's post, which someone else pointed out, too.

Re:Thanks again to the NY Attorney General (1)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810314)

You do know that Elliot Spitzer (Governor, prior AG) and Andrew Cuomo are Democrats, right?

He meant the Beverly Hills entertainment ones, not the Texas oil ones.

I am not from the us , BUT... (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810676)

So pardon me if from my external point of view, the party of the rich and selfish is BOTH Democrate and Republican. Same brand of right/centrist, only different flavoring on minor issues.

Whose fault is it really? (4, Insightful)

ancientt (569920) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808974)

While I agree with the approach of making the companies using invasive software change their approach, I'm dismayed that this is probably the solution most people think should be applied.

The real fault is jointly that of the OS and consumer. Allowing software with unkown ramifications is painfully stupid. If your computer is taken over by adware because you habitually just click "Ok" instead of thinking makes you deserve some of what you get.

I'm fine with penalizing companies that do bad things, but they're always going to be out there trying to find some way to shove their ad in your face. It's the same problem we see with spam, you can't stop the spammers, the only way to dramatically improve the situation is to change the behavior of the recipients.

The bigger fault is comptuer operating systems that allow software to make significant changes to the functionality of the system in adverse ways without making it clear that this kind of change is coming.

With my OS, I have to log in a root (and I'm reminded that it is a bad idea) every time in order to make those kind of changes. I appreciate the convenience of root/administrator but everything I need to do normally shouldn't and doesn't require that kind of access. That doesn't mean that my operating system is superior (although I believe it is better) it just means that the designers didn't expect me to need to trade convenience for safety. I seriously doubt users of Unix like systems have suffered from this.

I know it isn't going to happen, but I would have thought this was the best possible response if Microsoft (blind assumption but educated guess) was fined $30 for each affected system and each consumer who did something negligent was fined the same.

Re:Whose fault is it really? (1)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809028)

So you're gonna switch 'em all to Linux, instead of telling them to click "NO" on that dialog?

Or maybe running under a non-admin account?

Or maybe locking down IE so that only "approved" plugins can run?

Or... something?

And when they all switch to Linux or OS X and they get a dialog, they'll always click "No". Correct?

Like burglary is the fault of the homeowner... (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809220)

So you got burgled? Well it isn't the burglar's fault. You should have more locks/thicker doors on your house.

Re:Like burglary is the fault of the homeowner... (1)

Zerathdune (912589) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809556)

This is more akin to, "So you got burgled? It's your own damn fault, you shouldn't have let some sketchy guy into your apartment in the middle of Harlem at 3 am."

You can have a firewall, active anti-virus, even, a sudo type setup, but Alcatraz Won't keep things in if you open the door and say, "leave." When someone is in the habit of clicking through things, and in the case of the sudo type setup, typing in their password every time something asks for it, no security system will protect them, and the fact of the matter is, there will always be threats on the internet to be wary of. The 'net is Harlem at 3 in the morning. It's not my home in the suburbs, you have to be careful, and most users don't understand that. Windows could be OpenBSD and you would still have problems with botnets.

Re:Like burglary is the fault of the homeowner... (1)

squallbsr (826163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17813216)

I completely agree, the internet is completely like Harlem at 3 in the morning. Switching from windows to OSX, Linux, BSD, etc will only cut down on the automatically propagating viruses and trojans. There will still be problems with adware and spyware, even botnets, however I don't think botnets are going to be the biggest problem if everybody switched. This is because only the 'bad' websites would have the botnet downloads - then prompt for a password to install.

Basically it becomes a stupid user trick. People need to stop clicking on stuff that they don't need and aren't looking for. Moving people off windows will only stop the automatically propagating 'baddies'.

I call BS... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809320)

I call BS. There is no way that you know what every piece of software on your system does.

Re:I call BS... (1)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809470)

It's certainly possible on a Free/Open Source platform. Granted, looking at the source code for every single application would be a humongous task on a typical GNU/Linux user's computer, but it's possible to do so on a smaller lightweight distro, or if you installed LinuxFromScratch.

Re:I call BS... (1)

arkanes (521690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17813420)

OP was right. You don't know, and you can't know. The more open your platform, the more you *can* know, but it's not even possible in theory, much less in practice - a complete Linux environment is 10s of millions of LOC and you couldn't reasonably audit all that even if thats all you did.

I doubt that theres a single person who can realistically claim a comprehensive, in depth knowledge of all parts of the Linux kernel, much less the entire GNU userland, much less any of the dozens of programs that you'd need to do any real work. You don't even have to bring X or graphical environments into it.

And that's totally aside from more esoteric trust issues like trusting your compiler, and your bios, and your CPU, and the firmware in all your devices.

Re:Whose fault is it really? (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809558)

While I agree with the approach of making the companies using invasive software change their approach, I'm dismayed that this is probably the solution most people think should be applied.
Why? Companies can't advertise by painting graffiti across the side of my house, why shouldn't there be legal restrictions against them doing the same with my computer even if I do nothing to stop them?

Re:Whose fault is it really? (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810130)

, I'm dismayed that this is probably the solution most people think should be applied.
It's not the solution, but it's certainly a very useful action. I think that a lot of people here would agree with me.

I will probably never complain about going after the people who do these sorts of things (although I my complain about the specifics of a sleazy attack, I will always say that somebody needs to go after them).

-- and yes, there will always be spammers, but there really needs to be a two-pronged approach. One is to educate the user community to avoid the scams, and the other is to penalize the scammers. The less that it profits the scammers, the less likely they are to engage in the activity. If you place the burden of the proof on the users, then the scammers will always be upgrading the style of their attacks to deal with the education of the population... we've already seen that with the ever-increasing sophistication of the phishing attacks.

Ultimately, the only way to stop (and/or slow down) these attacks is to make them unprofitable for the scammer. Just about anything (sleazy or otherwise) from selling food to live child porn that makes the seller money will find someone to engage in the process.

Where there are victims, they need to be assisted not blamed, and the victimizers need to be discouraged.

Whose fault is it really? - followup by op (1)

ancientt (569920) | more than 7 years ago | (#17823192)

There have been some good points in response to my original post that I think deserve some followup.

First, thank you 'The Bungi' for articulating what seem to be some of the most common responses.

So you're gonna switch 'em all to Linux, instead of telling them to click "NO" on that dialog?
No, the solution isn't to make everyone switch to my favored OS. Yes, it is better for me but I don't assume it is better for everyone.

Or maybe running under a non-admin account?
Or maybe locking down IE so that only "approved" plugins can run?
That would be a start, and I do both when I'm on a Windows machine. For example, if I haven't added a site to my trusted list in IE, then any other page is HTML and cookies. If they're using a non-admin account by default, then another large set of problems would magically disappear. It isn't that people would stop doing stupid things, they would just have to work harder to do them. It pits laziness against stupidity and making it difficult to do something stupid is a good thing. Ubuntu, OSX and FreeBSD all do a pretty good job of making it harder to be stupid than lazy. That makes them more likely to be secure.

Or... something?
Yes. Increase the responsibility that is expected of end users. It is called criminal negligence when you let people use your gun or car and you should know better. When you let somebody you don't have a good reason to trust use your computer, you're doing the same type of thing, (granted it is generally not the same degree.)

And when they all switch to Linux or OS X and they get a dialog, they'll always click "No". Correct?
I could wish it were so, but no, I don't think they'll click No, but I do think that when a Window pops up saying that the program they are trying to run requires the ability to make major changes to their computer and they have to enter the secret password they will A.) Be a little more cautious and B.) Click cancel rather than go to the effort a lot more often.

So you got burgled? Well it isn't the burglar's fault. You should have more locks/thicker doors on your house.

Burgled? I love that word, thank you 'EmbeddedJanitor'.

No, it is not like you got burgled and thus it is your fault. It is like you saying to the police that you don't bother to lock your doors because you know that somebody could pick the locks and you keep the alarm system PIN taped above the keypad so you don't have to remember it (just in case you do decide to turn it on.) Your penalty is that the cops will probably never recover your stuff. You're still a victim, you're just a stupid one that won't get much sympathy. Where I live it is illegal to leave your car unlocked and running at the gas station. It is still your car and having it stolen means that you are a victim, but doing something that stupid is illegal.

If you do take reasonable precautions but find out that your alarm company posts the master PIN online and your local locksmith opened the door for the burgeler, then you're going to be royally ticked and at the very least stop supporting them. That is much like what Windows has done in the past and a little like what IE does by default. Having the insecure lock and alarm is better than not having them, but you have every right to expect those things that are supposed to keep your stuff safe to at least make a reasonable effort to do so.

The solution is to change the defaults of the operating system they use and the actions the users take. If those two things are done, then the manpower required to prosecute companies and people intent on evil can be focused where it needs to be.

Victims need to be assisted and educated, but the level of stupidity exhibited by some of these people makes them accessories rather than victims. If you give someone a ride in your car after a bank heist, or let a criminial hide in your house then you share blame. If you don't bother finding out who you're trusting when you give them full access to your computer, then you're the same kind (lesser degree) of accomplice.

I'm not saying that this punishment of companies doing shady things is a bad thing, but there are far worse out there that should be receiving this effort. We'd all see a benefit if the legal system were used to address root causes more than symptoms.

No, I don't use LFS, but I have and as a result I know a good bit about who I can trust and what kind of software I can trust and how much. I don't know what kind of alloys are in my locks but I do know enough to know how to buy them securely and am smart enough to use them. It doesn't always keep me safe, but it helps. People think they can trust Microsoft to keep their data secure. It's a job that Microsoft shares a part of the responsibility for and I hope that Vista does as good a job as it is supposed to. I do believe XP was far safer than 98 and IIS6 was far safer than IIS4 so I'm hoping to see continued movement in that direction. For the most part I don't expect people to review every part of their computer system, I just expect them to know who and when it is not safe to trust. I'm hoping that Microsoft's initatives are starting to pay off in a safer Internet, but I don't think will be able to appeal to consumers for safety at the expense of convenience until consumers care more.

If Microsoft had a $30 fine for each instance of easily preventable system infection and end users faced the same, then I think we'd see the real changes that need to happen. It won't happen any time soon, but I still sometimes wish it would.

Cingular's on a roll today... (1)

schnoid (834307) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809156)

Two articles in row about cingular! Both positive for them and no one else.

corporations don't made decisions... (5, Interesting)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809270)

...humans do. They need to stop fining "corporations" and instead determine which named human made the offending decision, the guy who finally issued the order to do such and such offending thing, then freeze that guy's salary and compensation for five years (or more, to make sure they don't just raise it quickly to cover the loss to his check) and make that human pay the fine out of his own wallet, exactly the same as when joe sixpack gets a fine.

Re:corporations don't made decisions... (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810064)

Doesn't that defeat the purpose of being part of a corporation ?

Re:corporations don't made decisions... (3, Insightful)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810260)

Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.
Ambrose Bierce
Correct you are.

Re:corporations don't made decisions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17810272)

So the corporation puts 200K in escrow and gets me to do it at a higher salary. If I'm caught, I get the escrow, take the hit, and keep my salary the same for the next five years. OH NOES. Then they move on to the next guy. There should only be about a hundred million people lining up for this. More if they can subcontract.

not if they make cheating like that... (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810476)

...a criminal felony. And it would get back to that decision thing again, it will still take a named human to issue that order to try and hide the first guys fine payment. Just keep bumping up the penalities for playing dodgeball. We throw enough Cxx whatevers in the pokey and they will start to realise that sometimes your "profts" ain't worth it, maybe it's a better idea to be content with already being a millionaire.

I got nuthin against makin a buck, we all do it, but I got a lot against being a greedy sniveling cheating bunghole. And these big guys are always hiding behind that incorporation charter so they can pull little cute stunts like that. Put that at risk, the ability to stay a corporation, such as the "three strikes and you are out" deal we already use to "get tough on crime!!1!" (they say it's de law for the little guy,so it might as well include corporations, IMO), and always make a named human being responsible for actions, not this thing that end with the last name Inc., and we could sort this stuff out better.

Ya, it ain't perfect, but the current situation where they fine companies, then they pay that fine out of whatever they charge their suckers..err, I mean valued customers down the line..is nuts. It ain't working too well. We need something else.

Re:corporations don't made decisions... (3, Interesting)

Mr_Tulip (639140) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810348)

Very good point.

I've always been of the opinion that equivalent fines and punishments should be imposed on corporations compared with persons.

Instead of jail time, perhaps a 'cease trading' time, where the gross income of a company for a period of time is taken away by the state.

Instead of the death penalty, a complete dissolution of the business, with all proceeds going to the state.

Instead of an individual fine, the fine an individual would receive for the crime should be multiplied by the number of employees in the corporation.

My $0.02 worth

Re:corporations don't made decisions... (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810536)

yep, along those lines. How about...pondering, there's a ton of possibilites for some reform here.....after their third conviction for being jerks (the legal term there...), all the top management is canned (along with having to pay the fines out of their wallet, along with pokey time if it was that bad), and the company is turned over to the employees who then hold a secret ballot neutrally observed election to see who does what for management? Just selling it off is too immediate and would hurt the bulk of the normal workers there, doesn't seem right either.

Stockholders I am less concerned with, because it is part of their duty to supervise their management they hire and maintain, and if they fail to do that, and the current management makes it to the "three strikes" level in convictions, then that means the stockholders aren't paying good enough attention to reality, so they get to squirm awhile too, just to wake them up a little.

As to trading, I have long been of the opinion there needs to be old fashioned "investment class" holding periods before stocks can be sold. Say two years hold period at a minimum. None of this buy in at the IPO or at some market news story and then sell 18.5 hours later deal, make stock holding a real "investment", and eliminate as much of the casino action as possible.

Re:corporations don't made decisions... (2, Insightful)

Raenex (947668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816560)

Very good point.

But it seems you missed it. Humans make the bad decisions, not corporations. Those are the people who should be held responsible. Instead, what happens now is that only the corporation is punished, not the guy making decisions, except in rare cases. This has changed somewhat after Enron, but it still isn't the norm. If people were held personally responsible for their uncaring actions, they'd think twice before blindly following the corporate "make profit at all costs" culture.

What you are arguing for is "human-like" punishment of the coporation (which already exists -- they can but shut down, fined, dissolved, etc).

Re:corporations don't made decisions... (1)

Mr_Tulip (639140) | more than 7 years ago | (#17819798)

You're right, I probably did miss the point. :)

I don't think that punishing the individuals within a corporation is an answer though - simply because in the wonderfully flawed justice systems in the western world, the people who actually made the decisions would not be standing before the judge - except maybe to give evidence against the scapegoat who's going to take the blame.

So why not punish the whole corporation? The threat of dissolution of the company - and the ruination of their career - would be more of a deterrent than some fines and / or jail time for *someone* in the company.

I guess there may already be laws in place already to punish corporations, but I contend that they should be used more often - I can't think of many cases where a company has been punished to an extent proportionate to their crimes. There were the EU fines against Microsoft, which many people still called rather soft, but that's about all I can think of off the top of my head.

Re:corporations don't made decisions... (1)

sydbarrett74 (74307) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810654)

I agree. It's kind of like a firearm being put on trial for murder rather than the person wielding it. Guns (and corporations) are only tools and implements. Only *people* are accountable and culpable. If a person fucks up, s/he should get bitch-slapped.

Re:corporations don't made decisions... (1)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810986)

Wont work, coprorations will just use white horses to do punishable decidions.

since i dont know if white horse is right idiom for this i will explain:

Company intentionally hires naive, power hungry or just plain stupid person and gives him major post somewhere ... even add him to board of directors. He wont have any reall power (so he wont fuck company up with his own bad decidions), instead he will be used to authorize questionable and dangerous deciditions that company wants to make (i.e. "friend" will hive him tip for something great to suggest to help his career or he will just be given documents to sign). If he wont cooperate, he is quickly replaced.

Later, when this decidion backfires, our White Horse is one to take blame and jail time. Person who really made decidion is untouchable by law.

Re:corporations don't made decisions... (1)

Magada (741361) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812130)

Erm. True. Not so true if you stick it to the real originators. Or just convict the white horse AND then charge the other directors with collusion or aiding and abetting or whatnot. Works just as fine.

Re:corporations don't made decisions... (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812012)

Nope. Can't happen.

Not in this country where the penalty for killing fish and crabs is higher than the penalty for killing a Human.

http://spewingforth.blogspot.com/2005/03/of-fish-a nd-men-corporate-penalties.html [blogspot.com] To quote from the article:

This summer, Motiva pleaded no contest to criminally negligent homicide and assault, only the second such prosecution in state history. The company was ordered to pay $46,000 in fines, then the maximum under state law, and $250,000 more to a victims fund.

If a human had done so, he would be doing some serious time in a Federal Prison. Since its a corporation, they have "fined" it.

Maybe we too should incorporate ourselves...

Hence retrospectively if you want to be the next Hannibal Lecter, better be born as a corporate -:))

Re:corporations don't made decisions... (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 7 years ago | (#17813014)

..humans do. They need to stop fining "corporations" and instead determine which named human made the offending decision, the guy who finally issued the order to do such and such offending thing, then freeze that guy's salary and compensation for five years (or more, to make sure they don't just raise it quickly to cover the loss to his check) and make that human pay the fine out of his own wallet, exactly the same as when joe sixpack gets a fine.
This won't work. It goes against the veil of secrecy that has been used for centuries to shield the people inside the croporation from the rightful wrath of the outsiders. And, besides, if compelled to do so, croporations will always blame an expendable low-level scapegoat for the bad deed, whilst the executives will escape scot-free.

Make it a felony, too (1)

swb (14022) | more than 7 years ago | (#17813642)

...even if the sentence is only a fine, it needs to be a felony. Felonies carry obnoxious baggage which you seldom can escape, and for many "business professionals", having a felony on their record can preclude their ability to obtain professional licenses or cause them to lose the ones they have.

But I do agree that penalties for this kind of bad behavior need to be focused on the individuals and the fines payable by them personally.

V1AGRA: you're next! (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809324)

Now if we could just hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for their half of the spam in my inbox.

Re:V1AGRA: you're next! (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810290)

Hopefully they're next on the list for prosecution. Problem is, I'm guessing that the trail from the drug manufacturers to the spammers are a bit better laundered.. It's going to take a little more work to track the flow, and prove who knew what about drug spam.

Badly worded summary (3, Informative)

Ken_g6 (775014) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809662)

The summary makes it sound like these companies produced adware. Actually, it's almost the opposite. Cingular, Priceline, and Travelocity have been fined for buying advertising displayed through adware programs produced by others.

Re:Badly worded summary (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17810270)

It's a slim difference between buying adware and producing it. If companies like Cingular and Priceline weren't paying for that garbage, nobody would have any incentive to produce it. Those people don't produce adware as a hobby any more than the companies buy it on a lark. It was a very carefully considered decision that the market cost of using adware was considered less than the profit to be had from them.

Cingular, Priceline, and Travelocity have been fined for buying advertising displayed through adware programs produced by others.

Yet another pat on the wrist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17809824)

What do corporations get for first degree murder in the US?

Re:Yet another pat on the wrist. (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17811846)

What do corporations get for first degree murder in the US?

$35 million for Fraud.

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/1979/11/do wie.html [motherjones.com] As you can see, more than 15,000 people have been killed by corporates worldwide directly.

http://www.healthsquare.com/fgwh/wh1ch20.htm [healthsquare.com] The Dalkon Shield device killed 17 people in US. Yet what was done? The product was withdrawn and the company censured.

No Siree! Corporate crimes are meant to be "settled" or "fined".

Corporates should have a criminal sheet and a blotter plus an impact on their credit scores like us.

A criminal conviction should result in the CEO being directly implicated, and the credit scores updated to reflect that. With a score of 320 good luck to the corporate to get cheap loans/raise money by stock.

Re:Yet another pat on the wrist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812710)

Motherjones? My goodness tovarisch. I am too lazy to read the article linked in your post, so could you tell me how many americans have been killed by corporates? Since that's all that really matters

Re:Yet another pat on the wrist. (1)

ngm (94150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818940)

Geez, you couldn't site an article that's not 27 years old?

The roaming gnome (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17809882)

They all said I was crazy when I told them there was a gnome in my computer making it do things.

iPhones galore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17809950)

Free spyware and adware with my new Apple iPhone - GREAT deal guys. I'm glad Apple supports companies like this too.

Opera? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17810970)

Isn't Opera a software using adware? Don't people install adware *voluntarily*, because they do not want a for-pay service?

So how can it be illegal to advertise over an advertising channel?

We're not talking spam here, but user-installed software, for dog's sake! Jeez, crazy Americans.

Pull their FCC Licenses for 1 day and Fine them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812006)

I'm still wondering how a technology that interferes with almost every other technology nearby could get an FCC license? For work, I must use Cingular GSM/GPRS/EDGE/3G networking. Personally, I've selected a different carrier. When using my personal phone, if the Cingular device rings (or a text msg is delivered), my PCS phone is kicked off the PCS network and my call is ended.

All the GSM licenses need to be pulled and the other posters saying that $35K isn't enough are correct. I don't agree with $350M either, but $35M would get their attention. Heck, where I work, many IT projects have round-off errors larger than $35K.

Get their attention - pull their FCC licenses and fine them $35M for "being bad." They need to fall under doing the "public good" line the TV stations must.

Stop it! (1)

JM78 (1042206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815548)

Does Cingular still exist or is it the new AT&T? I'm so confused. The TV keeps telling me the latter but the interweb calls it by the former *sigh*
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