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Re: [dvd-discuss]Spyware Maker sues Lavasoft

On Saturday, May 24, 2003, at 06:34  PM, microlenz@earthlink.net wrote:

> The complaint is almost funny at times...among other things...if  
> lavasoft can't
> figure out how to unload their software rather than following the  
> simple
> instructions they provide...it really must be scumware

New.Net claims that it's not "data mining". According to their  
complaint "Data mining is the practice of massaging data to keep track  
of and extract value from the numbers, statistics, and information  
found within a database and predict what a customer will do next. Data  
mining software keeps track of and stores information gathered from Web  
site logs and databases and uses that informations to create a "user  
profile" which is compared with recorded behavior to divide the users  
into groups and predict their behavior. After accumulating this  
information, the data mining program can be used to send targeted  
online ads to a browser based on the results to the database. Data  
mining software is commonly used by retail and marketing companies to  
find customers with common interests"

(Plaintiff's Complaint at 5)

The alt.privacy spyware FAQ (http://shplink.com/misc/FAQ.htm) refers  
readers to  
palace/datamining.htm  for a discussion /of "data mining."

That site states "Generally, data mining (sometimes called data or  
knowledge discovery) is the process of analyzing data from different  
perspectives and summarizing it into useful information - information  
that can be used to increase revenue, cuts costs, or both. Data mining  
software is one of a number of analytical tools for analyzing data. It  
allows users to analyze data from many different dimensions or angles,  
categorize it, and summarize the relationships identified.   
Technically, data mining is the process of finding correlations or  
patterns among dozens of fields in large relational databases. " It is  
a considerably more broad definition, and it is a definition that would  
not contradict, for instance, a bioinformatition's use of the term.

In it's license (which, according to point 2, should be consulted on a  
nearly constant basis), New.Nets states that it "does not collect any  
Personally Identifiable Information  about you via the Product.  
"Personally Identifiable Information" means information that would  
allow the collector to determine, without reference to any other  
information, your name, address or telephone number. However, New.net  
may collect non-personally identifiable technical or distribution        
                  information that may include, without limitation,  
information regarding your Internet service provider, the IP address     
                     or other source from which the Product was  
downloaded or installed, and certain operating metrics such as which  
Product                        number belongs to your Product."

Note that the scope of their claim is limited to the entirety of  
information collected via the Product. Presumably, New Net could use  
outside information to complete a database that would allow them to  
perform actions consistent with their narrow definition of  
data-mining-- the construction of a predictive model of behavior  
correlated with a single individual. But even if New.Net does not  
attempt to construct a massive database, their actions could, quite  
reasonably be expected to fall within the broader definition--  
discerning correlations between among dozens of fields in a database.  
The simple observation that users who visit slashdot also visit sites  
related to "C++ development" is data mining, although a trivial example  
of such. Perhaps it is folly to regard all such activity as morally  
suspect. Nevertheless, purging cookies on a frequent basis is a common  
practice among privacy devotees (and presumably among AdAware's  
customers). The "product number" of New Net's client can reasonably be  
described as an unpurgeable cookie-- and therefore of  interest to  
anyone who suspects suck data structures.

Jeremy Erwin