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PurityScan or PurityPop?

by Wayne Porter

Adware or "Pop-up" Ware

6.20.2004

More and more users are being lured in with free offers, free software and sometimes promises of a free kitchen sink. Freeware has been a staple for software authors since the early days of computing. Some software authors offered shareware, which is a try before you buy approach, others offer a limited version of their software so the user can decide if they like it or not, and others simply create applications for free with no strings attached.

However, there is a new breed of software that promises many things for free, but in turn has a "hidden price". Take the latest offer from PurityScan for instance. PurityScan, located at (www.purityscan.com) offers to scan your computer to find "objectionable" content. Best of all they promise that the service is free! Free would mean no monetary cost to the user.

Like most things in life nothing is truly free and PurityScan comes with its own hidden costs.

If users take a moment to really read PurityScan?s end user agreement (http://www.purityscan.com/terms.html) it becomes apparent that while the service is ?free?, the user is going to subsidize the cost by receiving pop-up advertisements on their machine while they surf. This doesn't make it "spyware" as some might label it, but it borders on annoying adware. In their defense PurityScan has made it clear in their agreement, but this is an agreement that most user's won't take the time to read.

Let's take a closer look at their agreement date June 30, 2003:

Section 1:

By installing PurityScan you understand and agree that PurityScan will make the following changes to your Internet Browser:

Several PROMOTIONAL CONSOLES (daughter console/interstitial) may be launched for the duration of time you spend online. These consoles may continue to be launched as long as you have PurityScan installed on your machine. PurityScan does not monitor the activities or collect information from users once they have left PurityScan

By downloading PurityScan, you understand that these changes cannot be reversed without running the removal executable of PurityScan. If you try to change the items above manually, your changes will be lost when you reboot or turn off your computer.

In plain speak these ?promotional consoles?, "daughter consoles" or ?interstitials? are marketing terms for pop-up ads. While some users tolerate them, others find pop-ups to be the bane of their surfing experience. PurityScan does not claim to log or track user activity while surfing, but it is very clear that if you use their service they will pop-up ads not only while users are actively using their application but for as long as PurityScan is installed on the machine!

Once again we caution users to read the EULA (end user license agreement) carefully. Even if the agreement is long and tedious taking the time to actually read it can save you a lot of future headaches.

Ultimately users must decide if a free service, software or offer is worth being bombarded with pop-up ads every time they surf the Internet or having their name sold to other marketing firms. We don't feel the price is right but the choice is yours. Check the SpywareGuide database entry on PurityScan

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