Zyra .TV //// TradeDoubler //// Spyware? //// Site Index
How DARE an antispyware company accuse TradeDoubler of cookie-misuse!?
If you'd asked me a few years ago what I thought of Spybot Search and Destroy, I'd have said it was GOOD. The thing is, Spybot Search and Destroy is a well-known anti-spyware software package, and it has been known to be able to get rid of a variety of bad things!
The problem started when Spybot Search and Destroy started getting rid of good things. It's a bit like the Spanish Inquisition, starting out with the intent of doing good and upholding righteousness, but ending up cruelly persecuting people and making decidedly dodgy moralistic judgements based on a puritanical ethos.
Sad to have to admit it, but Spybot Search and Destroy seems to have gone that way. I found out when I discovered that it was banning TradeDoubler!
Affiliate marketing is an honest business, and although not all affiliates behave exactly in a saintly manner, the fact is that MOST affiliates deserve to be paid and not to have their pay taken away because some fundamentalists want to lump everything together and tar everyone with the same brush.
Also, not only have Spybot Search and Destroy destroyed my pay because of the fundamentalist policies, but also they have prevented me from logging on to TradeDoubler's official site. What makes this worse is that the list of things banned and excluded was HIDDEN. Ironically, this is a bit like the behaviour of some nasty spyware! The spyware had censored the Internet and prevented AVG being looked at. To see more about this, see AVG Censored
Then again, you expect spyware to behave in a way which is BAD. What you don't expect is for antispyware to behave like that. This is getting as stupid as another sickness of the age, where the honest folk have more to fear from counter-terrorism than they do from terrorism.
Now bearing in mind that Spybot Search and Destroy had inserted various things without my knowledge into Mozilla Firefox cookie exclusions, I started examining what other things had been added. I was shocked at what I found, and it makes reading similar to when I unpicked the code of a virus and published the list of banks (web page titles) which the rogues were trying to hack into by phishing, presumably to steal people's money! If you'd like to see the list of banks hacked you can see it here. I tried to warn the banks, but it was not worthwhile. They don't listen.
Another annoying thing about Spybot Search and Destroy: In addition to meddling in the internals of browser options without my consent, they also had a rather odd policy on licensing. This only came out after a polite discussion with them to try to find out if it was they, or some other company, who had software which had censored out TradeDoubler. To be fair, they did confess it, but then went on to ask for money for a CORPORATE LICENCE. The thing is, Spybot Search and Destroy has for years been free for personal use. However, as soon as anyone pays you and you're not working for nothing, you instantly count as CORPORATE. Well, no, I'm not paying for something which is not fit for purpose. Also, I consider they are being somewhat ungrateful as I have been giving them a free link from the Anti-Spyware page for years on the assumption that they were doing us all favours. It's a bit like the ideas of Linux, where many places get free links because they are genuinely improving life for humanity.
However, when SpyBot Search and Destroy turned out to ban TradeDoubler and accused TradeDoubler of being spyware when it plainly IS NOT, their link was removed from the Anti-Spyware page! Of course you may still visit Spybot Search and Destroy if you wish, as I have left the web addresses published in plain text on the page. It's just that in my opinion they don't deserve a free link!
Now let's see what else Spybot Search and Destroy has started censoring out, blocking, etc. Please avoid reading the list if you are easily offended, as, unsurprisingly it contains various things which are very naughty and some of which there may be a good case for needing to block. Annoyingly the list contains some honest affiliate marketing companies and their tracking systems, all lumped in with all the decidedly questionable stuff!
I got this list by inspecting the Mozilla Firefox Tools/Options/Privacy/Cookies/Exceptions. If you're wondering where the list has been hidden so it is secret from any search/find etc, it's in the Registry under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\P3P\History\ ... but beware, Don't go changing things in the Registry unless you are sure you know what you are doing AND you keep a backup.
The list of banned / blocked / cookie censored sites begins (with annotations) ...
apmebf.com - This is one of the tracking link systems for Commission Junction, simply to make sure people are paid for their honest work.
bfast.com - This is a tracking link for the old BeFree affiliate marketing system.
casinotropez.com - Well, if you want to visit a casino, it's up to you! This one, Casino Tropez, was on the Gambling page with other Online Casinos
clickbank.net - I have some criticism of ClickBank. However, depriving affiliates of commission isn't helping anyone. It just lets the merchants keep the money they were supposed to pay for advertising, and then it reduces the chance the links remain.
commission-junction.com - Note: Another entirely unfair censorship, this time of Commission Junction here.
excite.com - Excite.com is a Search Engine!!!
gator.com - This, Gator, did come in for some criticism.
kqzyfj.com - Note: Another entirely unfair censorship, this time of Commission Junction here.
linksynergy.com - Oh, now they've targeted LinkShare as well! That just means LinkShare merchants keep the money and affiliates don't get paid. Unfair.
qksrv.com - This is the first, the original, tracking link system for Commission Junction, simply to make sure people are paid for their honest work.
statcounter.com - What? StatCounter? That's a website performance monitoring hit counter and graph drawing thing. Harmless, and on a great many people's front pages! In fact, take a look at Zyra's website and you'll see where it says "view stats". In effect this measures how many hits my front page has. It doesn't involve other people's personal information.
tradedoubler.com - Note: TradeDoubler innocent! yet, it's unfairly LUMPED IN with all the other stuff! More about TradeDoubler here.
valueclick.com - This is the parent company of Commission Junction
vegasred.com - This is a real casino, and we have a page about it, at Vegas Red
Right, quite a list. Obviously some of the items are not the sort of thing you'd want to show the vicar. However, whatever you think about the immorality or otherwise of pornography, the indecency of websites doesn't make them SPYWARE! I would guess that some of the sites mentioned are actually spyware, but I am so appalled at the way honest affiliate marketing companies are lumped in with all the iffy stuff, I have changed my view of Spybot Search and Destroy. I no longer recommend it, and I suggest that you get rid of the evil spyware by some other method, a method which does not introduce other problems into your computer!
If you have got Spybot Search and Destroy, you can uninstall it, and to be fair to the company, they will listen to what you have to say. However, even if you uninstall Spybot Search and Destroy, you'll still have that wretched list stuck in your machine which means that some operations will be impaired without your knowing. If you want to reverse the damage, and you've got Mozilla Firefox, to get rid of the list, you go to TOOLS... / Options / Privacy ... and then in the Cookies section click on "Exceptions". There's then an option to "Remove All Sites". If you do this, it's up to you. You may need to find a better list, because it should be possible to ban the bad only.
If you're very patient, you could carefully delete just the ones I've highlighted, but you'll have to uninstall Spybot Search and Destroy first, because it wouldn't surprise me if it reinstates the list when you're not looking.
I don't know how to undo the banned / censored list in Internet Explorer or in Opera or in other browsers. However, as the list is secreted in the depths of the Registry, the same list applies to various browsers. Edit it on one and it should change on others.
Another point about the Spybot Search and Destroy banned list: Some of the website names are porn, and some are known good companies, but some are suspiciously names which could be other anti-spyware companies. That does seem strange, doesn't it?
Summary: I used to like Spybot Search and Destroy and I used to recommend them on this site. But now they've lost my trust. In my opinion they've been unfair to TradeDoubler, and, on closer inspection, unfair to a variety of other good companies. I feel this is a breach of trust, in a similar way to what happens if someone pilfers your loose change when you're not looking. If you trust someone, you don't expect they'll do such a dirty trick. It is sad, all very sad.
If you really want to understand about privacy or the lack thereof, deal with the Facebook problem! Down with Facebook! This page is also an exposť of companies getting things wrong.