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Some Spyware Programs Can Threaten Online Privacy; Looking In On 'Big Brother'

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Companies can create profiles of computer users with spyware programs. The programs tag your computer with an identification number. Every file a computer user downloads is reported to the program's source.(WRAL-TV5 News)
RALEIGH — There are some computer programs that threaten online privacy that users may not know about. Plus, there is no privacy for people living inside the "Big Brother" house. Companies Can Keep Track Of Computer Users With Spyware Programs

Privacy advocate Steve Gibson notifies visitors to hiscompany's Web siteabout spyware that tracks Zip files and programs computer users download. Real Networks and Netscape both use a spyware program calledDownload Demon. WRAL downloaded a spyware program to check out Gibson's claim.

"You can see some very readable information like user ID, like the sites that you've been going out to, like your IP address," says Paul Hetzel, WRAL IT Manager.

The programs tag your computer with a unique identification number. Every file a computer user downloads is reported to the program's source with the ID number and your machine address. The danger is a profile could be developed.

"Once you have the ability you can start to target people, start to classify people and from there who knows. It's really Big Brother," Hetzel says. Take A Look At Big Brother Online

Speaking of Big Brother, visitors can surf the Internet to peek in on CBS' newest reality-based program.

TheBig Brother Web sitelets visitors watch streaming video of the 10 participants 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Everyone in the house wears a microphone so visitors can hear what they say. The Web site issues a disclaimer saying some of the audio may not be suitable for children.



Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Adrienne Traxinger, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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