Unfortunately, it seems that all a company has to do is mention somewhere in the impenetrable text of their EULA what they may be installing or collecting in the background to meet legal disclosure requirements.
Some agreements are honest enough to list in plain language what they are going to do.
“In order for us to keep this software free we will open advertisements while you surf the web. ……. I further understand that a search tool bar will be added to my web browser which will remain visible as long as the software is installed and agree that XXXXXX web page will become my default Home page…”
Because some software providers do not have our best interests in mind, this article will show you how to install and use a powerful free tool to help you spot potential problems like pop up ads, unwanted tool bars and personal information collection software before they are installed..
Step 1: Download EULAlyzer from the Javacool Software web site
If you are familiar with downloading and installing software skip to Section B below.
Step 2: To start the download to your PC, click on the Save File button (Figure 2)
If you have not changed the default download location, the file will be on your desktop
It should look something like Figure 3
Step 3: Locate the file “eulalyzersetup20.exe” Double click on it to start the installation process. Click the “Run” Button. (Figure 4)
Now that you have the EULAlyzer program installed there are only a few steps to checking an agreement for potential problems.
Before you install a program, subscribe to a service, or join a new Web site you will be asked to accept a user agreement. The agreements may have several different names, to be thorough consider looking at all of them before clicking on I agree…..
Some of the possible names are:
– Terms & Conditions
– Advertising Policy
– Legal Notices
Step 1 – Open the EULAlyzer program and click on Analyze on the left hand side of the screen. (Figure 5)
Step 2 – Drag and drop the Crosshair icon onto the window displaying the text you would like analyzed. This method may not always work depending on how the agreement is displayed on your computer. The way you can make it work every time is to copy the text from the document and paste it into the box labeled “License Agreement To Analyze” and then Left click on the “Analyze” button. (Figure 6)
Step 3 - The program provides a tremendous amount of detail, you can drill down to each potential problem word or phrase. Or if you prefer you can look at the “Details” box for a brief summary and a “calculated interest level”.
The: “Flagged text” is broken down into several categories:
Left click on a category to display each phrase that fits that group
Left click on the green arrow to highlight the specific words or phrases that may be a problem.
The “Details:” box provides a summary of the analysis. (Figure 7)
Below are a few example potential problem phrases:
The text in bold is for emphasis only.
“These third parties may also use combined information about your visits to our Site and other sites in order to provide advertisements about related goods and services that may be of interest to you. You can opt-out of the third party advertising program by visiting the Network Advertising Initiative website Opting out of a network does not mean you will no longer receive online advertising.”
“We collect personally identifiable information such as names, email addresses and demographic information such as age, gender and zip code. We also may collect your IP address, browser type, domain name, access times and referring Web site address. This information is collected both during registration on a site or in response to specific requests, for example when signing up for a newsletter, entering a sweepstakes or contest or answering a survey.”
“Information Posted on XXXXXXX Broadband Sites – By transmitting, uploading, posting or submitting any Information to XXXXXXX Broadband Sites you (a) declare such Information is not confidential, secret or proprietary information; (b) warrant that no other party has rights to the Information and that your transmission, posting, uploading or submission of the Information to XXXXXXX Broadband Sites does not violate any copyright or other laws; and (c) irrevocably grant XXXXXXX Broadband, a worldwide, royalty free, non-exclusive perpetual, worldwide license to use, display, perform, distribute, modify, reproduce and publish the Information in any form anywhere.”
While it can take some time to checkout these agreements, using the EULAlyzer program is much faster than reading each one and trying to analyze them by your self. I believe knowing about potential security leaks or annoying pop ups in advance is well worth the time invested.
Please note: While analyzing documents is a valuable practice. You should always have active and up to date Virus protection software and a Firewall running at all times.