This past week I had the opportunity to address a group of typical computer users, and as I normally do, when I get the opportunity to so, I polled this group on their personal computing habits. On this occasion, I focused in on that dreaded beast – the End User License Agreement.
There were no surprises since the last time I polled this issue – most users, it seems, continue to dismiss the idea that reading an End User License Agreement is important.
But, experienced users know better – there’s a downside risk in not reading the EULA carefully. By not reading the EULA carefully, users may let ourselves in for some unwelcome, annoying, and potentially dangerous surprises.
I’ve covered this issue here in the past, but it looks like it’s time to roll out a previous article posted on March 17, 2010, on the realities of EULAs, and why it’s important to understand the conditions disclosed in EULAs.
March 17, 2010
I’ve always considered that reading a Eula (End User License Agreement), sort of like reading the phone book; and who reads a phone book?
Without a doubt, I get pretty bored when reading EULA text; especially since I’m forced to read reams of small text, in a small window, which requires me to scroll continuously. I suspect, I’m not alone in this, and that most people just skim over the text; or don’t bother reading the EULA at all.
One of the most important aspects of any software license agreement is, the information it provides concerning the intentions of the software, and whether there are additional components bundled with the main application.
Additional components that could potentially display pop-up ads, transmit personal identifiable information back to the developer, or use unique tracking identifiers.
Not all software applications contain these additional components of course, but you need to be aware of those that do when you are considering installing an application.
Software developers who choose to employ these tools, to gather information, are generally not underhanded, and in most cases there is full disclosure of their intent contained in the EULA – the end user license agreement. But here’s the rub – virtually no one reads EULAS.
If you are a Digsby user for example, and you haven’t read the EULA, then you are likely unaware that Digsby has the right to use YOUR computer for its OWN purposes.
EULAlyzer, a free application from Javacool Software, the SpywareBlaster developer, can make reading and analyzing license agreements, while not a pleasure, at least not as painful. This free application quickly scans a EULA, and points out words, statements, and phrases that you need to consider carefully.
Working similar to an anti-spyware program, EULAlyzer flags suspicious wording on a scale of 1 to 10, based on how critical the disclosed information can be to your security, or privacy.
If you, like me, download freeware frequently, then you need to read the software license agreement carefully. EULAlyzer will make it easier for you to focus on the important aspects of the agreement.
There is no doubt that we could all use a little help in working our way through these wordy, but necessary agreements. The reality is, all software EULAs should be read carefully.
Discover potentially hidden behavior about the software you’re going to install.
Pick up on things you missed when reading license agreements.
Keep a saved database of the license agreements you view.
Instant results – super-fast analysis in just a second.
Knowledge is Power and EULAlyzer makes it simple to instantly identify highly interesting and important parts of license agreements, privacy policies, and other similar documents, including language that deals with:
Installation of Third-Party or Additional Software
Inclusion of External Agreements By Reference
Potentially Suspicious Clauses
and much more…
Results are rated by “Interest Level” and organized by category, so it’s easy to zero-in on the facets that concern you the most.
System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, Win 7 ( x64 compatible).
Download at: Download.com
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