Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Monday, September 11, 2006

Response from MyWebSearch & FunWebProducts

If you look at the Board of Directors for the company IAC Interactive you’ll find a very respectable list. Some you may recognize names like Barry Diller(QVC, Fox Paramount), Edgar Bronfman Jr.(Seagrams), Victor Kaufman(Tri-Star,Sony), John C. Malone (Remember TCI Cable),  Alan Spoon(Washington Post) and Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf(Desert Storm).  They’re all class acts.

Even Kirk Lawrence, Director of Internet Security and Privacy at IAC Search & Media was likeable, respectful and took plenty of time making suggestions on how we could best describe MyWebSearch.  I’m not sure he fully understands our objections to how MyWebSearch operates. I applaud his efforts but they still have a long way to go.

According to Kirk Lawrence…
 The truth is that since Nov 2004, the MyWebSearch toolbar platform does not have the ability to update itself.  If users need an update, they must go back to our site and download a new toolbar.”

Here’s what I found in the MyWebSearch EULA
“We reserve the right to add additional features or functions to the existing Software. When installed on your computer, the Software periodically communicates with our servers. We may require the updating of the Software on your computer when we release a new version of the Software, or when we make new features available. This update may occur automatically or through other means and may occur all at once or over multiple sessions”

Acknowledging past mistakes, Mr. Lawrence told me…
"We ... cleaned up the advertising networks that we use." 

I followed up with with Ben Edelman, who has put great effort into tracking the ad networks that support spyware. 
Ben tells me he continues to see IAC toolbars widely advertised through other vendors' spyware.  "I've even seen IAC toolbars promoted through banner ads injected, by spyware, into other companies' sites without those sites' permission," Ben added.  
Ben points out that users are likely to respond to IAC's banner ads in hopes of getting free smileys (or whatever) with nothing more, when in fact IAC requires users to take the toolbar in order to get the smileys.  All in all, Ben says, IAC's advertising remains pushy and misleading.  In any event, he says IAC's ad networks definitely haven't been "cleaned up" as IAC claims

The MyWebSearch EULA’s starts out by saying  “SHORT PLAIN ENGLISH SUMMARY OF END USER LICENSE “.  I pasted the EULA into Microsoft Word and found the “short” 617 line “summary” consists consists of 11 Pages,8436 Words and 174 Paragraphs. 

Changed to AOL that occur after installing the MyWebSearch toolbar

No where in the eleven pages does it disclose that MyWebSearch hooks into all of the following programs.
Outlook, Outlook Express, AOL Email, AOL Browser, something called Becky!, IncrediMail, MSN Dial-up, Google Talk, AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and Windows Messenger. This action probably violates the terms of service for most of these applications.

Kirk said…
“My only real concern is that the software is not categorized as "Adware" or "Spyware" since it is defamatory.”

I have updated our PLUS descriptions so it’s now categorized as Badware instead of Adware. Obviously, there are far worse dangers I’d rather be writing about but as long as we continue to hear, “Where the heck did MWSBar.DLL come from?” I’ll keep my eyes open.  MyWebSearch was a bad acquisition by IAC and they should either fix it, or let it die.


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Blogger TeMerc said...

Great work Bill, I just updated my thread to include a little EULA analysing, check it out:

I'll update the Gogle group later on tonite.

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's of little consequence, but that "something" called Becky! is a little gem of an e-mail client I used for some years once upon a time. Showing its age, I'm sure . . . just letting you know what that other affected program was.

12:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


6:56 AM  

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