It’s bad enough that adware, which can have negative effects on our PCs, has already infected an astonishing number of machines — 80% in one U.S. study. Now, on top of everything else, adware makers are pressuring anti-adware advocates to stop listing their programs as candidates for removal.
In the newest development, iDownload.com has sent cease-and-desist letters to several anti-adware sites. Some of the Webmasters I’ve spoken with say they received the letters on Feb. 15 or 16. Sites that have confirmed to me that they’ve received the letters include Castle Cops, Spyware Warrior, Spyware Guide, and Sunbelt Software, the maker of the CounterSpy adware removal program.
The letters, copies of which have been sent to me by some of the recipients, object to the descriptions of iSearch on these sites and demand that the references be removed.
One iDownload letter, from attorney Mark D. Hopkins, a partner in the Austin, Texas, office of Savrick Schumann Johnson McGarr Kaminsky & Shirley, says in part:
- “Specifically, a recent review of materials disseminated by your company, via the Internet, revealed that your company is falsely disparaging iDowload’s [sic] product, iSearch…
“As we all know, Malware is a phrase within the public conscience [He means ‘consciousness.’ —Ed.] that has a specific meaning. ….
“Continuing, unlike Malware, iSearch does not gather any personally identifiable information about end users, does not collect data about the user’s web usage, does not collect any information entered into web forms, does not share information with third parties, does not send or cause to be sent unsolicited e-mail, and does not install items such as dialers on the end user’s computer. …
“To the extent you fail to remedy your improper disparagement of the iDownload brand on or before February 15, 2005, we will take all necessary action against your company to protect iDownload from your continuing tortuous conduct [He means ‘tortious’ or injurious conduct. —Ed.].”
At this point in our story, I’d like to stop for a moment. Let’s be clear why I prefer to use the term "adware," not "spyware," for the class of products we’re talking about.