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comScore receives spyware allegations
Published: 2006-12-11

Market research company comScore Networks has allegedly been found installing its market research software without a user's consent. The company, which tracks a user's clicks and other surfing habits, claims to have over a million users of its software and is the only major online market research company that works with third parties. comScore sells its market research to major companies such as the Ford Motor company, and also operates with customers in a wide range of other industries such as the pharmaceutical, health care, financial services, and telecom sectors.

comScore claims that its user participants are, "willing exhibitionists, happily selling their online privacy for gift certificates and free screensavers." However independent spyware researcher Ben Edelman and anti-virus researcher Eric Howes from Sunbelt Software disagree. In a report published on Forbes.com, Both allege that the company is effectively operating as spyware. Edelman says he has documented more than a dozen examples where the software is installed without permission.

A critical aspect of spyware, which has long been software of questionable legality, is that a user's permission is not clearly obtained before it is installed through a browser - which is typically, but not limited to, Internet Explorer. Spyware companies work with third party "middlemen" that install their spying software and receive payment for their efforts. Some types of spyware are known to have virus-like capabilities that steal passwords and other private information from a user's computer.

comScore has denied the claim that it working in the spyware realm. However, in the Forbes article the company also admitted that it previously had partnership negotiations with DollarRevenue, a company well known for installing spyware and adware programs on a user's computer. comScore is known to have revenues of $50M per year.

Posted by: Kelly Martin
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