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May 6th, 2002, 12:46 AM #1
- Join Date
- January 17th, 2005
I found that at Zdnet:
Caution! Don't let Brilliant hijack your PC
Executive Editor, AnchorDesk
Wednesday, April 3, 2002
Brilliant Digital Entertainment is the latest in a string of companies that seem to think Internet users are stupid. In this case, stupid enough to let Brilliant take over your computer for its own gain--without compensating you. Don't let them!
Here's the story: Brilliant has been distributing its 3D advertising technology along with Kazaa's file-swapping software since last fall. But recently Brilliant started sending out additional software that would turn every computer running Kazaa into a node on Brilliant's own network.
We know this because ZDNet's John Borland uncovered the story yesterday while reading a federal securities filing in which Brilliant described its plan to use end users' computers for distribution and file storage. It might also siphon off your unused processing power to have your computer do work on behalf of Brilliant's clients.
Brilliant's clandestine network is based on a piece of software called "Altnet Secureinstall," which is bundled with the Kazaa software. That technology can connect to other peer- to-peer networks, ad servers, or file servers independently of the Kazaa software, and can be automatically updated to add new features.
WHILE BRILLIANT promises that customers will be given a chance to opt-in (or not, I suppose) before the network is turned on, and that some compensation will be offered, the company is under no obligation to do so. That's because buried in the fine print of the Kazaa user agreement is the following:
"You hereby grant (Brilliant) the right to access and use the unused computing power and storage space on your computer/s and/or Internet access or bandwidth for the aggregation of content and use in distributed computing. The user acknowledges and authorizes this use without the right of compensation."
You have to agree to those terms before you can use the Kazaa file-swapping service.
MY BET is that the company really will offer some trifling incentive for people to opt in-- forever--before turning on its network. But that deal is one-sided: You have no way of knowing what your excess bandwidth and processor power is actually worth. Maybe Brilliant should give everyone who opts-in a share of its stock so everyone can share in the wealth the company hopes to create.
Beyond questions of propriety and security--is the software safe from hackers?--you have to wonder: How are we supposed to trust Brilliant when they've already snuck their software onto millions of machines?
Brilliant is not the only company trying to pull some version of this trick on users. Kontiki and Red Swoosh are also in the business of using other people's machines and bandwidth to distribute their own (and their clients') content. I don't know enough about these two companies to toss them into the same pile with Brilliant. But I suspect they are very close.
MAYBE SOMEDAY a company like Brilliant will be honest with us, explaining its intentions upfront, and giving users a chance to opt-in and receive fair compensation in return if they do. When that happens, maybe we will decide to say yes to the offer. I can't imagine why we would, given the privacy and other risks involved, but at least we should be given the chance to consider the offer.
But since Brilliant has already missed the opportunity to be candid about its plans--and the software it's installed on millions of users' machines--I urge everyone to dump Kazaa and, in the process, send Brilliant packing. In doing so, you'll be protecting your computer, the Internet, and sending a message to slimeball companies about what is--and isn't--acceptable behavior.
Fight the spammers and hijackers
May 6th, 2002, 02:41 AM #2
Moved to Parasiteware Forum, since this doesn't seem to have anything to do with CJ.