Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 193–202 | Cite as

Spyware – the ethics of covert software



Many computer users are happy to be oblivious of the workings within the machine and yet on some level it is important to know what is occurring therein. This paper discusses an unusual type of surveillance software which may be installed in many computers. The strange aspect of this software is that it has often been downloaded and installed by the user, but without her knowledge. The software is mainly designed to collect information about the user of the computer and relay this information back to the software manufacturer. The download, installation, data collection and data transfer all take place within the users own computer but very seldom with the users knowledge. It is the intention of this paper to describe the technology involved and thereafter discuss how this new technology is affecting the online privacy debate. The paper continues to discuss the basis for legitimacy of technology and also the current level of technological deterrents available. The paper concludes with a comparison of two approaches at resolving the current problem, via legislation or the market approach.


contract freeware integrity internet marketing law privacy spyware surveillance 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of InformaticsUniversity of GöteborgGöteborgSweden

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