Comment From Ray Everett-Church

Ray Everett-Church is the AGLOCO Chief Privacy Officer. He was also the Chief Privacy Officer at AllAdvantage. Ray has been reading the comments in the 1000 AGLOCO Sign Ups post and this is what he had to say about the spyware issue.

I couldn’t disagree more with the characterization of the Viewbar as spyware. In my experience, spyware has four main characteristics: 1) It’s installed without your permission; 2) It surreptitiously tracks you; 3) it is difficult if not impossible to turn off or remove; and, 4) it sends your information to an unknown and untrustworthy entity where you have no control over what happens to it.

AGLOCO’s Viewbar (nor AllAdvantage’s Viewbar before it) does not have those characteristics. Indeed, AGLOCO’s Viewbar is the opposite of spyware: you must actively install it, you have to turn it on in order for it to track you and earn your hours, you can easily turn it off and uninstall at will, and finally you know who’s tracking you and our Privacy Policy gives you explicit information about what happens with your data and how you can delete it from our system if you desire.

I know a thing or two about spyware: I was an expert witness in a series of twelve lawsuits in which I testified against one of the major perpetrators of spyware on the Internet. They actually hired me in part because of my experiences at AllAdvantage with permission-based and privacy-protecting advertising technologies like the Viewbar.

If you’re interested (or can’t sleep!) you can read brief excerpts from my 80-page expert witness report (the whole report is, unfortunately, under seal by the federal court). I submitted the excerpts when I testified at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Workshop on Spyware in 2004. My written materials are here.

I hope that helps clarify things a bit more.

Regards,
Ray Everett-Church
AGLOCO Chief Privacy Officer

Called the “dean of corporate privacy officers” by [email protected] Week Magazine, Ray Everett-Church is an internationally recognized expert on privacy law and Internet-related public policy. He is also the author of Internet Privacy For Dummies.


18 thoughts on “Comment From Ray Everett-Church”

  1. Carl says:

    OK, let’s not argue about semantics. Instead, just read the Membership Agreement. Take the word ‘spyware’ out of every argument I gave. It’s not installed without permission, it is possible to remove, and it only only sends information to companies and partners stated in the membership agreement.

    The word ‘spyware’ certainly causes a stir with people, so call it what you want. You’re still agreeing to be tracked, shown ads, promotional materials, and who knows what else (the agreement isn’t clear, but it is likely that ads aren’t the only thing you are going to get from the Agloco).

    I am not trying to rip on Agloco’s program or dissuade people from using it. Everyone who signs up knows what they are giving (their privacy while browsing) and what they are getting (shares in a company that sells ads in a voluntarily-installed toolbar).

    The main point still remains, regardless of semantics, I hope.

  2. Tony says:

    Now I’m not saying that Agloco is ‘spyware’ (because it doesn’t fall into the classical definition), I just mostly agree with Carl.

    Also, some law suites come to mind, where some spyware has stated exactly what it was doing in EULA (you know, the one that noone reads) and was bringin up the case against security software companies for (appropriatly) flagging and removing their programs. (I believe the spyware company lost for being losers at life)

    Now the following is not limited to just Agloco – ‘understand what you are putting on your computer’, and you’ll be better off 😉

  3. Idris says:

    If I’m honest I’ve skipped all of the Agloco stuff (it hit several blogs at the same time and all seem to be churning out similar posts about how good it looks so I switched off – similar to the Review Me stuff that hit a week or two back) so don’t know how legit it is.

    As a rule of thumb I would always encourage people to be careful about the data they give out as data combined with computers can be a very powerful tool.

  4. tim says:

    heh.
    with all of the ‘news’ you see now-a-days about spam in email boxs, you gotta wonder why folk complain when they sign up for stuff like this…

    go figure.

  5. RZ says:

    John, said I would come back to read your stuff again – nice info

    As to data – I read the AGLOCO privacy policy and Membership agreement. It very clearly states that any information they obtain from me (including my name or email address) will NEVER be shared with anyone. And if I quit (or die, why would I quit somebody who sends me money) any data about me will be deleted.

    Further, I read that I can stop AGLOCO from getting any data at any time by clicking on the minimization button – (btw – what sites do these guys go to that they are so embarrassed about?)

    And since they never tell anyone any of the data, who cares if they know I am addicted to sudoku and sudoku sites – if the AGLOCO viewbar has an occasional ad for books on sudoku, I am good with that)

    Looks like this is one time someone got it right on privacy – and if it was due to Ray Everett-Church – then thank you Ray.

  6. Nomar says:

    pretty cool he answered your questions personal !! good to hear its not spyware though

  7. Vinay says:

    Good to hear from none other than Ray Everett-Church, CPO of AGLOCO. This is some comfort for sure to those who think the Viewbar will be a pain.

    Cheers,
    Vinay

  8. Paul says:

    John,

    Any idea when the toolbar will be released? I can’t really do much with it until I can have users download something…….

    Paul.

  9. Nick says:

    John a quick question.

    Using Agloco member calculator:

    Scenario 1
    Direct Member referrals: 10
    Average number of referrals that you think each of your referrals will get: 0
    Earnings/month: 17.5

    Scenario 2
    Direct Member referrals: 5
    Average number of referrals that you think each of your referrals will get: 1
    Earnings/month: 36.25

    Does this mean that it is better to have less direct members referrals and more extended?

  10. Stephen says:

    Site says “just a few weeks away”.

  11. I would certainly agree that not everybody is keen on the idea of having their online behavior tracked, willingly or not, for the purpose of serving up ads. Although it’s happening all the time, all over the web, to you and everybody, whether you want it or not. There are ways to protect yourself and to limit the amount of information people can capture (entire chapters about that in “Internet Privacy for Dummies”). The value proposition from AGLOCO is simply that since it’s happening, you ought to profit from it. Not a deal that everybody cares to make, but I think it’s good to have the option. And of course, variety is the spice of life! 🙂

    Regards,
    -Ray

  12. Kenneth Langbrook says:

    This company will die in 5…4…3…2…1… such a 1990’s idea “ooh, let’s pay people in worthless shares while we show them ad’s. We will make millions, funnel it out of the company and then go bankrupt, then we don’t have to pay the shareholders anything. Brilliant!”.

    S-C-A-M.

  13. David Mackey says:

    I have to agree with Everett-Church. I think there are two camps on this issue – the one is that any monitoring is spyware, the other that any unrequested monitoring is spyware. Monitoring is part of life. If we want customized home pages, to be paid for our viewing habits, etc., we’ve got to give a little – that being information about ourselves. If we aren’t comfortable with the amount of info. they want, we don’t have to utilize them. Though, I don’t want them using that to strong arm us into giving detailed personal information which they can use in inappropriate ways, in general I think most reputable companies are doing a fine job maintaining the balance.

  14. John Chow says:

    Nick – No it does not mean it’s better to have less direct members. The calculator assumes that each indirect referral will refer the same number of people. So in Scenario 2 you have 25 people in your network Vs. 10 in Scenario 1. That’s why you make more.

    Also, you get 0.25 shares per hour for referrals whether they are direct or indirect. However, when cash payment starts, you will get more per hour for directs than indirects. That was how AllAdvantage did it and I’m pretty sure AGLOCO will go this route with cash payment as well because it will encourage people to sign up more direct referrals.

    Kenneth – The 1990’s were also the time where everyone and their dog lived the high life and ate out at high end restaurants everyday. What were you eating? 🙂 Or did the money train leave the station without you?

  15. Sonia says:

    Knowing someone information and using it against them are two separate issues. People have to know how to fight with their head (“Killimg the mockingbird”) Give people some privacy ™

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