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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador
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    I've made than one request for networks and merchants to clean house with parasites and would like them to take a moment and consiser the collateral damage being done on behalf of these less than desirables allowed to openly operate in the affiliate area.

    1) Lets assume that a mere one million dollars is being stolen in profit from web site owners in a years time. Certainly the figure is much higher than this but lets keep it simple.

    2) How much money are consumers spending on popup blockers?

    3) How much money are consumers spending on anti-virus and email blocking software much of which has been attributed to affiliate spammers?

    4) How much money and the value of time wasted is being spent in conjunction with tech support calls, lost productivity and service costs to foulded up computers due to adware?

    5) How much time and money are industry experts and security consultants spending on addressing the problems of companies that most consider as spyware such as 180 solutions, WhenU, Gator/Claria and how much is that costing Coporate America and Governments around the world to be considering.

    There are probably many other considerations (feel free to list them) but the overall collateral damage being done from parasites and adware who's main purpoise is to profit via affiliate relationships is unbelievable in my opinion. And this collateral damage does not even consider that consumers privacy rights ARE being undermined.

    At what point are the affiliate networks and merchants doing business with these folks going to realize that they are effectively causing significant collateral damage by allowing them to openly operate in an arena where financial based transactions occur?

    The networks irresponsibility in partnering with parasites and adware is impacting much more than just an affiliates income and I will continue to point the finger clearly at them for many of the problems consumers are now facing on a massive scale.

    Enough is enough! Review your positions and kick parasites and the scumware out of the networks as I'm sure many others will not just be focusing on the effects and damages but the enablers as well - that puts an X right smack dab between the seals on the affiliate networks logos.

    Your associations with these people are despicable and certainly not upholding to the principles that affiliate networks themselves are respectable companies.

  2. #2
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    The biggest collateral damage is to the industry as a whole that now will be regulated by state or federal government. If merchants lose the ability to set cookies as a side effect of eliminating spyware, the affiliate industry dies. Unless someone has a way to track sales without setting cookies. And in that case, they better start hawking their wares quickly so we all have an income in a year or so.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  3. #3
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    loxly, the FTC and others know about cookies. The FTC even talks about how they use cookies on their site. So merchants aren't going to lose the ability to set cookies and the affiliate industry is not going to die. Everything that is being done now will be to our benefit in the future and i believe one day, maybe not as quickly as we like, the parasite problem will be mostly gone. So i'm going to continue to build and will be ready when that day happens, and make money while doing it

  4. #4
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    One thing I'd like to add is the "fear factor."

    The average internet user has been unnerved by drive-by downloads, unstoppable pop-ups, viruses, and spam. As the average internet user becomes more fearful and feels less in control of their own PC and browser, they are almost certainly less likely to browse online, buy online, or give their credit card online.

    Merchants and networks who partner with parasites are contributing to the fearfulness of these users, and the end result is they will be less likely to shop online.

    My 2¢. >Kaching<

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador Paul_Ward's Avatar
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    If I was a scummer, what would I care about collateral damage? In fact I'd be in there sending spam for anti-spam software and pop-up blockers.

    The problem is the internet is still the wild west, the sherriff will never come from "the people" but from "on high" - ok God now's the time to intervene.

  6. #6
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    I personally know seven people that have had to pay over a hundred dollars each in order to get their PC's disinfected of scumware. A couple of them have had to do it more than once (they keep using IE). So if seven people are affected like this just from my small circle of family and friends this problem is huge and is costing consumers many, millions of dollars annually.

    The average surfer knows there is something very wrong going on, but does not really understand what. They know somebody is making money by hijacking their start pages and popping ads every time time they open their browser but do not whom. Once they know who is making the money, the next step is to make the buggers pay.

    If the networks don't wake up to the fact that by not only enabling these scum but actually profiting from it, the class action law suits which will surely come will bury them.

  7. #7
    pph Expert! Gordon's Avatar
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    I have been infected four times I did not know how to keep the slimy assoles from giving me the driveby downloads. Not a once have I agreed to accept anything from any of them. All in it has cost me getting on for $200.00

    Is it any wonder I walk the streets at night armed to the teeth in the hope I bump into one of em?
    One day parasites and their ilk will be made illegal, I bet a few Lawyers will be pissed off when the day comes.
    Mr. Spitzer is fetching it nearer

    YouTrek

  8. #8
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    For the record, I will be producing a followup up letter for some of the folks at the FTC (and others addressing the issue of adware and spyware) and will be suggesting that the best way to address this issue is by directly attacking the affiliate networks first.

    A simple analogy they will understand is: Are cops most effective at curbing drug use by massive campaigns towards putting users of the drug in jail or is it more effective to target the dealer and kingpin to cut off the source of incoming drugs.

    Targeting of the affiliate networks and forcing them to take actions to clean up an infested industry will be the most effective way that the current problems presented by these rouge applications phoning home can be reduced very quickly.

    If folks doing unethical drives bys and installations do not have the relationship or ability to profit from the cause, much of the dirty players and tactics they are using that are plaguing consumers would quickly disappear. How long would "parasite_name" pay to have their product downloaded when they effectively have no ability to overwrite cookies and steal commissions because their relationship has been terminated?

    The networks are clearly the kingpins of this problem and I will be presenting an argument along those lines.

    I have repeatidly asked for networks to address these issues to deaf ears and I doubt that even the boldest of parasites "will even be used as an example at this time" by networks.

    Or...... "will someone be used as a scapegoat and an example made" that the affiliate networks can toy with showing how they really do "protect consumers and affilates interest"? Hmmmm I wonder...... I'll bet someone else is wondering the same thing too!

    Somebody get a shovel..... It's getting thick in here.


  9. #9
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by happypoon:

    2) How much money are consumers spending on popup blockers?

    3) How much money are consumers spending on anti-virus and email blocking software much of which has been attributed to affiliate spammers?

    4) How much money and the value of time wasted is being spent in conjunction with tech support calls, lost productivity and service costs to foulded up computers due to adware?

    5) How much time and money are industry experts and security consultants spending on addressing the problems of companies that most consider as spyware such as 180 solutions, WhenU, Gator/Claria and how much is that costing Coporate America and Governments around the world to be considering.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Herein lies the problem. They've created an entire industry around this area, with each side relying on the other side to survive.

    Imagine how annoyed popup blocker software manufacturers will be if popups are deemed illegal (hypothetically). I somehow can't see them jumping for joy in the streets.

    I wish I was big enough to require a seperate industry to fight me

  10. #10
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    There are enough free popup blockers that I can't imagine that is an industry that would suffer...

    I agree with Poon, take away the money machine and they have no reason to pop anyway.

    That is why I am pretty po'd at a couple of merchants here at ABW. Take away the money and the perps have no reason to spam, pop, hijack, etc....
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  11. #11
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by tibbs:
    I personally know seven people that have had to pay over a hundred dollars each in order to get their PC's disinfected of scumware. A couple of them have had to do it more than once (they keep using IE). So if seven people are affected like this just from my small circle of family and friends this problem is huge and is costing consumers many, millions of dollars annually.

    The average surfer knows there is something very wrong going on, but does not really understand what. They know somebody is making money by hijacking their start pages and popping ads every time time they open their browser but do not whom. Once they know who is making the money, the next step is to make the buggers pay.

    If the networks don't wake up to the fact that by not only enabling these scum but actually profiting from it, the class action law suits which will surely come will bury them. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    You're not alone in knowing many who are shelling out bucks to clean up their machines.

    At my husbands work (printing shop), they also build and repair computers. We live in a very small town with a population of about 5,000 if that. They have so many machines coming in that are so infested with crap that they don't function correctly that they had to hire a techie to clean & repair machines. They get on an average a dozen a week.

    What I was there on Wednesday, they had had 9 machines come in since Monday.

    They clean them up. Load adaware, spybot and a few others on the machines, reset the security permissions and give the customer a print out of directions instructing them on how to run the software, etc.

    It is a neverending cycle.
    ~Michelle
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  12. #12
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    Why are you Blaming only the Affiliate Networks?

    Have you taken a look at the List in PestPatrols Spyware/Adware Cookie Blockers?

    Guess who's else is on these lists for Virus/Spyware/Adware. Try MSN, Yahoo, Google, Alexa, and many other Search Engines,along with the real Spyware software. So is Linkshare, BeFree, Performics, CJ, and most of the Top Affiliate network programs. Banner Exchanges and others to. Geez, there are some SE that I manual submit to and are listed in.

    How about these Billion Dollare Search Engines? They should stop using the PopUps themselves, and Explain how the toolbars are used for tracking before download. Have you ever gotten insight into how shoppers shop or what they buy? Don't suppose that comes from their FREE Toolbars, do you?

    Networks and Merchant need Enforcers! Make everybody play by the Same Rules. Create Jobs, dummies and refuse to do business with Parasites,if it hurts Consumer Internet Industry on Internet Commerce. Adware cookies for most Affiliate programs are not like Spyware. Don't lump the two together, there is a difference, isn't there?

    If most Merchant hire Affiliate Managers, enforcers. If Affiliate Tracking Networks, hire smart people that can communicate, enforcing happens. If the Search Engines, which most are Public stock offerings, they got the money to improve the Privacy Issues.

    Otherwise...The Domestic Terrorist doing the vicious spamming, and virus makers could be caught. Eliminate unethically practices,weed out the bad apples everywhere or we are all doomed.

    Let's bring in the HomeLand Security Cyber Terrorism Czar in. The Government built the internet now make up'em fix it...

  13. #13
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  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
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    I'm with happypoon on this. You can put whatever spin you want to on it, and logically put the blame just about anywhere.

    You can say it's the network's fault, for allowing the parasites to operate within the network in the first place.

    You can say it's the merchant's fault, because they allow the parasites into their programs to steal from their other affiliates.

    You can say it's the parasite's fault for not operating in an honest, ethical, fair manner.

    And you can blame the affiliate, for promoting merchants who allow parasites in, or for promoting merchants who have their program on a network that allows parasites, etc.

    But the bottom line is: where can our efforts pay off the fastest, and with the biggest results? We can go after the merchants, one at a time, explaining how his all works, and convince them to drop the parasites. And that has happened in many cases. But the biggest bang for the buck will be for the networks to say "No more! The last site where the end user physically clicked the link to buy the product is the site that gets the commission. No more pop-ups, no more reminders, no more cr@p!"

    When that happens, the parasitic problem will be gone. As long as the networks say it's OK, merchants will follow along like Sheep. If the networks say it's OK, it must be, right?

    Smart companies will get as far away from this as possible, as the aftermath of the fallout will be bad. Any network or merchant who is associated with this parasitic activity when it is outlawed, especially the ones who've promoted it so heavily, will be remembered like Exxon will always be remembered for the tanker spill in Alaska.

    Exxon = oil spill = environmental disaster = bad

    CJ = parasites = theft, fraud, privacy issues, deception = bad

    It will be the same with the parasite issue. Consumers are fed up with pop-ups, software that slows or disrupts their computers, and TOS that are so lengthy and full of legalese only a lawyer can understand them. Consumers are learning they're being taken advantage of, their privacy is being compromised, and the companies who are doing this just want to make the big bucks as quickly as possible, and retire!

    The networks are the ones sitting in the middle of all this. When they finally get a spine and do what's right, this cr@p will stop!

    Andy

  15. #15
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>How long would "parasite_name" pay to have their product downloaded when they effectively have no ability to overwrite cookies and steal commissions because their relationship has been terminated?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Sorry, but I think the answer to that is Forever. Because they are succeeding at getting people to advertise through them via non-affiliate contracts. That way, they don't have to give a darn if the networks want them or not.

    As long as one competitor is able to buy pops against another competitor, there'll be a market.

    That's not to say there wouldn't be immediate carnage against those who are dependent on keeping their affiliations. But as an *industry,* it'll take more than kicking them out of the networks to kill it.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador mailman's Avatar
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    We need to zero in on a couple of well known Merchants and refuse to promote them.In order for this to work we would all have to partisapate.

  17. #17
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    "We need to zero in on a couple of well known Merchants and refuse to promote them.In order for this to work we would all have to partisapate."

    That's a very good idea and I agree but, I don't think that those that are making money with them are going to stop promoting those merchants just for the benefit of the rest of us.

    Something most be done but, I think that even if 75% of the people here decided to drop those merchants, I don't believe those merchants are going to drop the parasites.

    Only when the FTC or other agency or the people with the big money at risk of lost revenue because of parasites decide to take legal accion, then and only then is when I think that those big merchants, are going to clean up their act.

    Sal.
    ...

  18. #18
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    I said this before, and will say it again. Don't stop promoting to make anyone lose money - but do this.

    Pick bestbuy. They are online and offline and try to appear to be tech savvy. Organize in many different cities, either print up offers for circuit city that are better than best buy and stick the ads on the shelves. Or just go up to people and tell them where has a better deal - empowering the buyer...

    Contact the local and national media before hand so they are aware, and explain - this is exactly the behavior that Bestbuy is saying is valid on our sites, if this is just empowering the buyer, then bestbuy shouldn't mind that we help their customers, just like they are helping ours.

    The key is to have it happen in 10+ stores in various states (but it needs to happen in tech savvy places like sanfran,seattle etc. And in Best Buys home turf), and to tell the press about it ahead of time. The press needs to be spoonfed the story, and it needs to be the same everywhere - the press does not investigate, you have to investigate for them and show a unified message.

    I think it is a clear parallel to how companies like this treat affiliates, and it is presented in such a way that it would be easy for customers to understand how scummy the practice is. And what could best buy say? Get out of our stores... and um.. yeah...

    We include in the press packet, how Best Buy says you ca take your computer to them to be repaired, often the "repair" is removing scumware/spyware - but this it the very software Best Buy promotes and uses. Showing Best Buy is two faced, not tech savvy, and not looking out for their customers.

    You don't take on the entire industry at once, you do one merchant after another. High profile merchants like best buy don't need all the bad press this will generate, right now they can slough it off because the focus is on the software, not the merchants. If it is directed at them, it will be hard to ignore.

    Chet

  19. #19
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Sorry, but I think the answer to that is Forever. Because they are succeeding at getting people to advertise through them via non-affiliate contracts. That way, they don't have to give a darn if the networks want them or not. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I personally do not believe that any application that can monitor a users movement and taps into their browser with the ability to capture data being input belongs in an environment where financial transactions occur. I also recall the networks on terms of service previously stating basically that no downloadable software would be allowed as well and most likely for the same reasons as stated above!

    IMO the current classifications of spyware vs theftware are too weak.

    There is a HUGE difference between an application that hooks into the browser and it's mode of operation is by performing identify theft like operations (this is what I call theftware) vs an application that hooks into the browser and is paid a per popup fee for issuing advertising.

    I can deal with the per popup fee based applications much better than one that undermines my contract and work and 100% effectively negates my ability to compete when it is involved in the process.

    Yes, both will distract users, yes, both will still cause me lose income but there is no doubt with which one I stand the most chance of being harmed from an unfair competitive advantage standpoint. The theftware application 100% nullifies my ability to compete when it is involved in the process. A popup htat does not overwrite a cookie is incidental in comparison.

    Theftware is not only spyware in my definition, it is more harmfull in the collaterall damage it does than just plain spyware.

    If and when government resource requires the affiliate networks to turn over sensitive information regarding the amount of money theftware applications are making and how deeply involved they are embedded in the affiliate areana overall, they will be better able to assess the collateral damage being done via the affiliate areana.

    A large number of theftware applications exisit in the affiliate arena simply because they are allowed to which was IMO was due networks realizing they had the ability to profit from transactions that were not related to real affiliate channel sales.

    Just suppose the FTC said "We believe that the risks presented by allowing theftware applications that monitor a users movements online, has the ability to capture sensitive and personal data being entered online transmitts that data to another server for processing and operates via a method of performing identity theft like operations does not exist in an affiliate area where financial transactions occur".

    You'd see broad scale massive approval and appluase from consumers, businesses and affiliates all being preyed on by these applications.

    It would not solve the problem but would certainly limit the current damagaes being done quickly and it would make addressing the other areas of spyware easier.

    I for one am tired of the affiliate arena being used as an open door for less than ethical persons to theive and propser so that can turn into and develop even more deceiving types of applications as they gain financial resources and I'll guarantee you if research on the relationships from companies and persons involved in and utilizing theftware were really studied and analyized, it would show just like ecomcity says that it spans massiviely into other areas where kiddie porn, porn dialers, browser hijackers and other such crap they are addressing crosses over into.

  20. #20
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    Found this while browsing DM (direct marketing) News, the April 5 edition.

    "The Radicati Group, Palo Alto, CA, estimates that the market for spam-fighting software and other measures will reach $979 million this year, thanks to a 50% rise in demand over the past 12 months. The researcher forecasts that the market will reach $1.7 billion by 2008...According to a study by Ferris Research, spam cost U.S. businesses $10 billion to $13 billion last year in lost productivity, IT resources and help desk costs."

    INTERESTING.

  21. #21
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Carolyn,

    And that's exactly why there will probably be very slow movement by the government in this area except in regards to true spyware. A whole other lucrative industry has grown around these apps and there are just too many people involved with lots of money at stake. And what the consumer is reacting to that reflects those figures is adware not true spyware. The adware is what is evident to them and makes them go out and buy the removal and protection software. Not the true spyware.

  22. #22
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    Ms B, I sure hope you're wrong. I know from the submissions made to the FTC, there were complaints I read from big business as well as small ones that are doing anything but profiting as a result of the problems created from these applications.

    In particular, any organization who has support costs is being impacted by this issue and that is alot of big business that would be favoring quick actions. These same big businesses have a ton of clout as well.

    Hopefully there will be developments in the future that get consumers and businesses more involved in the detection of theftware as well as being able to easily report it.

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador darkstar7's Avatar
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    The only way to stop spam, viruses and any other annoyance is to empower the computers to be able to protect itself. Stop the stuff at the door if you will. Automatic software needs to be intergrated with the computer so that when you turn it on the software is fully active and protecting the computer from all threats. Self protecting and self healing OS systems.

    I'm not talking about the current method of software from multiple companies to buy and install. Anti-virus, firewalls, spyware, pop-up blockers, spam blockers, etc. The average joe on the street is still a little over his head learning how to just use the internet.

    I agree with Paul. It is the Wild West on the net. But it is evolving and growing faster than anything in history. Soon we'll be in the 21st Century. Oops, we're already in the 21st century. You'd never know. Where's my flying car?
    Luke
    Have you promoted your brand name today?

  24. #24
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
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    I keep hearing that Microsoft will put a stop to this with its next big product release. Apparently Microsoft isn't happy about other companies taking advantage of weak spots in its software.

    The recent swarm of security updates for Windows has been a huge embarrassment to Microsoft, and they are going to make it more difficult for parasitic type software to install and operate. This has cost Microsoft a ton of money, as well. More collateral damage.

    I think the end is near, there are as many big players as small against this stuff. And consumers don't like the way these things operate, generating pop-ups and slowing down their computers.

    Andy

  25. #25
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    I wouldn't trust Microsoft to save us affiliates. Remember Smart Tags? They're just out to make as much cash for themselves as they can.

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