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<nettime> Critics Call Digital Activation Intrusive
Jim Fleming on Sat, 11 Jan 2003 13:00:24 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Critics Call Digital Activation Intrusive


FYI... e-consumer power quite strong in this case, it seems...


>
>
>Jan 10, 2003 (The Boston Globe - Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News via
>COMTEX) -- Intuit Corp.'s popular TurboTax software might be a little less
>popular this year, owing to a new feature that forces users to digitally
>activate the software before using it.
>
>People claiming to be longtime users of the software are denouncing the
>new
>activation feature on a variety of Internet bulletin boards.
>
>Some critics go even farther, claiming that Intuit is using the activation
>system to install software that lets them spy on their customers' computer
>usage.
>
>Intuit says the spying claim is baseless.
>
>"I don't think people who are saying this have any factual data to show
>that,"
>said spokeswoman Cathy Sang.
>
>But Intuit admits that a bug in its product may have given users the wrong
>impression. So the financial software company is scrambling to put out a
>repair
>patch and avert a public-relations fiasco.
>
>It all began when Intuit decided that its latest version of TurboTax would
>follow the lead of Microsoft Corp's Windows XP software and include a
>product
>activation system. Designed to prevent people from installing one copy of
>a
>program onto many machines, the system generates a digital key that links
>a
>particular copy of the code to a single computer.
>
>TurboTax designed its activation system so that tax returns could only be
>printed or filed electronically from the first computer on which the
>software is
>installed. TurboTax can be loaded onto other machines, but these copies
>won't
>produce finished tax returns. The feature appears only on the Windows
>version of
>TurboTax; no activation code is needed by those who run the version for
>Apple
>Computer Inc.'s Macintosh machines, or those who use the Web-based version
>of
>TurboTax.
>
>Critics began to fret that the new system added "spyware" to the
>customers' hard
>drives. Spyware programs are generally used to display ads on a user's
>computer
>screen. They also keep track of which ads have been displayed, and collect
>other
>information about the user's computing habits. This data is then sent over
>the
>Internet to a company that uses it to send targeted advertisements to the
>user.
>
>The rumors were spawned by the discovery that the new version of TurboTax
>installs on users' computers a file called C_Dilla, which remains in place
>even
>after TurboTax is removed.
>
>Intuit insists there's no spyware in its software. C_Dilla is just a file
>left
>behind by the product activation system, the company says.
>
>This system was created by Macrovision Corp., a Santa Clara, Calif.,
>computer
>security firm whose products are used by a variety of software companies.
>
>"It is not spyware," said Macrovision product manager Michael Glass. "It
>is not
>examining the user's system." Glass said the file manages the TurboTax
>license,
>ensuring that the product will continue to work after it's activated.
>
>Intuit's Sang said that the company blundered by not removing C_Dilla
>during the
>uninstallation process. This was done because some users have other
>software
>packages that use the file, and these would stop working if C_Dilla is
>deleted.
>Sang said that Intuit is working on a patch that will delete C_Dilla when
>TurboTax is uninstalled, unless there's some other software on the
>computer that
>needs it.
>
>
>By Hiawatha Bray
>
>To see more of The Boston Globe, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to
>  http://www.boston.com/globe
>
>
>(c) 2003, The Boston Globe. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business
>News.
>
>-0-
>
>
>
>
>
>
>Source: Comtex Wall Street News
>
>Compliments of Scottrade.com

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