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How Smart Do You Have to Be?

Sunday, May 12, 2002

In a story related to our previous one on spyware, CNET's News.com has an interesting comparison between an IRS tax form and the End User License Agreement (EULA) for a piece of spyware.

The EULA is the screen most people skip when installing software by clicking the "I Agree" button. A simple grammatical analysis would seem to suggest that in terms of reading grade level, sentence complexity, and vocabulary complexity the EULA is more complex than a tax form.

"Every month, millions of people agree to terms-of-service and privacy contracts they haven't read--and probably wouldn't understand if they tried--to download software without paying for it. Many are later disturbed to find their computers coopted by little-known companies to distribute advertisements, monitor online behavior, or help solve complicated computing problems."

With many small but unfocused groups pushing for some kind of EULA reform or guidelines, there doesn't seem to be an obvious solution to this problem. However, one would hope that as spyware becomes more prevalent, consumer reaction will push reluctant companies into a more honest and up front approach to selling and distributing software.

Hey, a guy can dream, can't he? :)

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