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Digsby IM Client Quietly Installs Badware 259

Posted by kdawson
from the pushing-the-envelope-and-the-bounds-of-good-taste dept.
An anonymous reader writes "IM company Digsby has quietly included malware in an update to their client software that utilizes users' computing power and bandwidth while idle for a quick buck. When questioned, developers at Digsby claim that they have done no wrong and that users should not complain because the client software is 'free.'" The money-making distributed computing software is in addition to six "crapware" apps that users must refuse during installation. The terms of service that no one ever reads does describe the CPU- and bandwidth-robbing moneymaker, and its off switch is located behind the "Support Digsby" menu item.
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Digsby IM Client Quietly Installs Badware

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 14, 2009 @10:34AM (#29066349)

    It's not free if it's not open source.

  • Free or not... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by netruner (588721) on Friday August 14, 2009 @10:46AM (#29066521)
    Free or not, hiding (or not mentioning it, or putting it in the .000001 point fine print, or burying it in a 100 page EULA - IOW: obscuring the truth) something that you know people will object to is deceptive, dishonest and wrong. You have to ask yourself, would people not install my "free" software if they knew what it was doing - if the answer is anywhere close to yes, you have a moral obligation to reveal the details.

    This is part of the bargain - if you give away something for "free" and advertise it as "free", it needs to be "free" - as in not just that the costs are hidden. Otherwise, it really is a Trojan Horse.

    Don't reap the goodwill of the public when you're secretly using them.
  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday August 14, 2009 @10:54AM (#29066627) Homepage Journal

    If you've paid for your software, you can usually [expect] that they wont fuck you over with that crap

    So why are there ads in some PC games that cost over fifty bucks to buy?

  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Friday August 14, 2009 @10:54AM (#29066635) Journal

    ... if someone were to hack the malware. It would be very bad if they changed it so it downloaded copyrighted stuff, say whole CDs of recent music, to Digsby's machines, and then sent email to RIAA saying it's there. It would be a very, very bad thing indeed if this were then redistributed and thousands of unsuspecting people installed it and remained unsuspecting as the usually do, while it did its job then erased itself, because otherwise it would have been a Simply Awful very, very bad thing.

  • Re:Use Pidgin ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nametaken (610866) on Friday August 14, 2009 @10:57AM (#29066663)

    Agreed, and in the meantime, let them know why nobody is going to use their IM Client anymore.

    bugs@digsby.com

    http://forum.digsby.com/ [digsby.com]

  • Due diligence (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Friday August 14, 2009 @10:57AM (#29066677) Journal

    Here's your problem:

    The terms of service that no one ever reads does describe the CPU- and bandwidth-robbing moneymaker

    In other words, they told you about it in documentation you agreed to and said your read but didn't. This sounds kind of familiar. I think it is because of all the people I have heard say "I didn't know that was in the contract. I signed it but didn't read it. You know, just like all those people with the "sub-prime" adjustable rate mortgages that ballooned after 2 years.

    It is called due diligence and everyone should practice it, not just lawyers and businesses.

  • Badware? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RaceProUK (1137575) on Friday August 14, 2009 @10:58AM (#29066701)
    I know in computing it's fashionable to make up words, but badware? That's just crap. Besides, there's already a suitable word: malware.
  • by Culture20 (968837) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:07AM (#29066845)

    users should not complain because the client software is 'free.'

    A malware spreader saying this is like a person who knowingly spreads HIV saying his victims shouldn't complain because they got sex for free. I was going to say "rapist" but digsby doesn't install via drive-by download.

  • Re:Due diligence (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:08AM (#29066849)

    There is such a thing as a reasonable expectation of the program's functionality. You can't legally put "if you do 100mph for 10 minutes, then a hidden bomb in the tank explodes" in a car rental contract, and neither can you legally add unrelated stealth functions to a program just because you said so in the ToS.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:10AM (#29066881) Journal
    Unfortunately, paying for software protects you from "that crap" to roughly the same degree that paying for cable protects you from ads, or paying for DVDs protects you from involuntary trailers...
  • by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@gmai l . com> on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:26AM (#29067057)

    Bullshit, they'd cost the same as they ever did except they figured out they could add ads for just about nothing and increase their profit margins even more.

    If you really believe that in-game advertisements subsidize the cost of games then you really are ignorant.

  • Re:N ot free (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:30AM (#29067131)

    Laptop users also get less battery life.

  • Re:Due diligence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Moof (859402) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:33AM (#29067187)
    Maybe. If the contract is intentionally written in such a way that no layman can understand it and it's designed to take advantage of you, there is a valid argument against the company (IANAL, but people keep telling me this is true).

    And, as one person who replied to you also pointed out, if this was done via an automatic update without you clicking through to agree with a new EULA stating this, they're in trouble.
  • Re:Due diligence (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Belial6 (794905) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:44AM (#29067339)
    Calling due diligence is like complaining about spelling. At the end of the day you just end up being a hypocrite. There is no way that any person can fully read every contract, warning, recall, EULA, instruction manual, etc.. There simply isn't enough time in the day to accomplish this and still function in society. So, what intelligent people do is make the best guess they can as to what has the greatest risk, and read those. This software is a perfect example of something that doesn't cause great harm, so it would have been a bad idea for most people to spend hours reading the TOS when they installed it, and re-read it every time they loaded the software to make sure the TOS didn't change. That doesn't mean that they shouldn't get up in arms about bad behaviour. It doesn't mean that they shouldn't feel that the company behaved unethically. It doesn't mean that they shouldn't complain as loudly and frequently as they feel the ethical infraction warrants. Just because something isn't technically illegal doesn't mean that it isn't unethical or harmful.

    As for the sub-prime adjustable rate mortgages that ballooned after 2 years... The number of people that didn't know EXACTLY what they were getting is so small as to be irrelevant. People getting sub-prime ARMs just let greed get in their way and made the stupid prediction that housing prices would always increase dramatically faster than inflation. Of course some people got 3 of them, and when the short term housing price increase happened, they massively mortgaged two of them, put the money into the third, and when prices dropped, they cried that they didn't understand as they walked away from the two massively mortgaged houses with the third being free.
  • Re:Due diligence (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:45AM (#29067355)

    I think more people have a beef with the fact that they weren't up front about how to turn it off until now...heck I used to use it and I had no idea either.

  • by qoncept (599709) on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:17PM (#29067803) Homepage
    Unless you've done the market research, studied the budgets of the developers, guaged the economy, researched the public willingness to buy games that have ads, and considered inflation and any number of other factors, your opinion is worth about as much as anyone else's. Acting like it's so blatantly obvious that your opinion is better than his doesn't put you in a very good light.
  • by dummptyhummpty (1412923) on Friday August 14, 2009 @01:36PM (#29069019)
    I'm not sure what the issue is. When I opened Digsby today, it updated and with in a few mins it displayed a message directing me to a FAQ. It clearly tells you how to disable the feature if you don't want it.
  • by bluesatin (1350681) on Friday August 14, 2009 @01:48PM (#29069149)

    How many people do you know that actually ready the TOS before they purchase the product?

    How many products do you know, that have a TOS you can read before purchasing?

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Friday August 14, 2009 @01:48PM (#29069151)

    They were caught doing this before, so much that users made a big stink on their forums and they had to respond with a public statement. Apparently they havent learned their lesson.

    Then again its probably the only way they can stay in business so they'll do whatever it takes to make some money.

    Either way... I dont care. I dont use the software. I did install it recently while looking for an alternative to pidgin.... I now regret that greatly.

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