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Home > Privacy and Business > Online Privacy > Software Privacy "Bugs"

Software Privacy "Bugs"

Before privacy grew to prominence as a concern with the commercial Internet, software designers created applications and programs that could improve their functionality by collecting and digesting usage information. Some programs are also written such that they can be used secretly to collect information. Routinely, these scripts and errors are discovered and publicized breathlessly as software privacy "bugs."

When written, many of these "bugs" were undoubtedly regarded as "features" that would improve a site or application for users. Despite the hue and cry, never has a privacy "bug" caused or facilitated a legally recognizable invasion of privacy. Many bugs are not clearly problems as much as they are security problems, which can expose users to a variety of problems, including crime and privacy invasion.

It is inappropriate to collect personal information about consumers surreptitiously or contrary to their wishes. People such as Richard M. Smith who expose bugs are doing a service to consumers and coders alike.

Software companies are not in the business of threatening consumer privacy, but rather they are searching for ways to enhance user experience on the Internet. Having failed to predict that privacy would rise to such prominence, some companies wrote software that included information-sharing capabities that are now regarded as slightly more sinister than they actually are.


Web Bug Search Page, Richard M. Smith

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[updated 02/02/01]

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