The IE-SPYAD "Restricted sites" list and the AGNIS block lists are designed to help users protect their privacy and security against various technologies used by advertising and marketing entities on the internet.
When used in conjunction with Internet Explorer, IE-SPYAD enables Internet Explorer to restrict the use of the following technologies by the sites and domains included in the IE-SPYAD "Restricted sites" list:
- ActiveX controls
- Java applets
When used in conjunction with a program capable of http filtering (e.g., AtGuard, NIS, NPF, Outpost, AdShield), the AGNIS block lists enable that program to block the following forms of advertising from sites and domains included in the AGNIS block lists:
- banner ads
- other forms of web advertising
- popups (content only)
Sites & Domains Targeted/Included
As the IE-SPYAD and AGNIS lists are designed primarily to offer protection against technologies used by online marketers and advertisers, those lists target sites and domains associated with companies and entities whose primary business is marketing and advertising or the support of marketing and advertising. More specifically, they target sites and domains associated with the following advertising and marketing forms and technologies:
- banner advertising
- popup/pop-under advertising
- other forms of online advertising
- web use statistics, metrics, measurement, tracking
- "crapware" distribution
Thus, IE-SPYAD and AGNIS target sites and domains for a wide range of
marketing and advertising activity. The IE-SPYAD and AGNIS lists DO NOT
target only "spyware" distributors.
Please note that the broad goal of IE-SPYAD and AGNIS is to provide users protection against unwanted, intrusive, obnoxious, and dangerous web sites, companies, and software. As such, the IE-SPYAD and AGNIS lists may target other web sites and domains if there are reports that those sites and domains are engaged in pushing unwanted web pages, content, network connections, or software on users. In other words, IE-SPYAD and AGNIS may target domains and web sites engaged in behavior not contemplated in the above list. That list is not necessarily comprehensive and does not constitute a commitment not to target domains and sites for other behavior or functionality.
The Term "Crapware"
Please note that the word "crapware" (used in the above list) is a broad term that covers a range of applications that are pushed on internet users. By "crapware" we mean unwanted commercial software that is installed without the user's full knowledge, consent, and understanding, and that primarily serves the interests of commercial parties associated with the"crapware," not the end users on whose systems those unwanted applications are installed. The term "crapware" covers such applications as:
- adware: "advertising supported software" -- i.e., "free" software that is supported by the display of advertising -- often within the main window of the application -- or the use of the user's PC for other commercial purposes (e.g., distributed computing). This advertising is often accompanied by the collection and transmission of marketing and demographic data for the purpose of targeted advertising, which makes such applications spyware as well (see below for a definition of spyware). Although the software is billed as "free," the user in fact "pays" for the application by putting up with advertising as well as the collection of data (often about the user's behavior with the application or on the internet). Moreover, although the user typically clicks through EULA, thus consenting to this advertising and data collection, many (if not most) users are unaware of the true functionality of this software.
- foistware: commercial software that piggybacks on "free" software (a "host") and is installed along with the host application (such as KaZaA or Grokster). An alternative to straight "adware" that serves the same function, "foistware" often displays ads or collects marketing and demographic data for use by direct marketing companies, in which case such applications are spyware as well (see below for a definition of spyware). These piggybacking applications are referred to as "foistware" because they are unwanted by the user. Although users may have technically (legally) agreed to the installation of these "foistware" components during setup of the host application by clicking through a EULA, many (if not most) users are either unaware of these foistware applications or do not fully understand them.
- spyware: commercial software that monitors users' computer and Internet behavior, gathers other marketing and demographic data, and transmits those data to direct marketing and advertising firms, who often use those data for targeted advertising. Collected data may include personally identifiable or sensitive information, as well as information about users' internet behavior, computer usage, and usage of the application. Note that by the term "spyware" we do NOT mean such applications as keystroke loggers (keyloggers) or other similar system monitors that are used to spy on users. Those applications do not have a marketing or advertising tie-in or use; commercial/marketing "spyware" does.
- hijackware: applications or web sites that set user's default browser home page to an unwanted URL, change the default search engines defined within the browser to unwanted search engines and sites, or add unwanted toolbars and other custom plugins/add-ons to the user's browser and system. These applications and web sites may also configure Windows to prevent users from changing those settings back to the users' preferences or uninstalling the unwanted toolbars and plug-ins/add-ons. These applications and web sites may also edit the HOSTS file to tie known web sites to certain IP addresses, thus ensuring that users are unwittingly directed to unexpected, unwanted web pages.
- drive-by-downloaders: unwanted applications that install automatically when the user visits a web site. These are usually ActiveX controls and plug-ins, and users may or may not (depending on their Internet Explorer Security zone settings) see a popup requesting agreement to a EULA that authorizes installation of the application. In all cases, though, the download is initiated by the web site being visited, not the user.
- porn dialers: applications that employ users' modems to dial 1-900 numbers (often overseas) and connect with online services that distribute porn. The 1-900 phone charges that result from these phone calls are usually astronomical and outrageous. Moreover, these porn dialers are often installed via "drive-by-downloads," and users are frequently unaware that their modems are even being used to connect to 1-900 numbers (they find out later when the phone bill arrives).
There are many other terms that people have coined for these types of "crapware," however, "crapware" is a comprehensive term for all of these types of malicious commercial software.
Keep in mind that any one application may fulfill several of the above definitions. Thus, there can be "adware" that is also "spyware." There may be "drive-by-downloaders" that are both "spyware" and "hijackware." And so forth...
"Crapware" is often distinguished from other (more traditional) forms of malicious software such as viruses, trojans, and worms by the fact that, in most cases, the user clicks through a EULA at some point (by contrast, no virus will ever ask you to agree to a EULA). Thus, the companies who push "crapware" on users can claim that users "elected" to install their applications. Nonetheless, this "crapware" is unwanted by and unknown to users even though they may have technically (legally) agreed to the installation of that software.
For a fuller, more complete description of "crapware" and the kinds of
functionality associated with it, see the following web page:
No Specific Claims or Allegations
Nothing in this "Targeting and Inclusion Policy" or the IE-SPYAD and AGNIS lists themselves constitutes a specific claim or allegation that a particular web site, domain, or company has engaged in a specific behavior or action. Thus, for example, that a web site has been included in IE-SPYAD or AGNIS does not necessarily mean that the company associated with that domain distributes "spyware" or "hijackware." That a company's or entity's sites and domains have been included in the AGNIS and IE-SPYAD lists means only that the company and/or its sites and domains are engaged in advertising or marketing activity of some sort.
Please note that the following initiatives are not sufficient to prevent sites and domains from being targeted or included in the IE-SPYAD and AGNIS lists:
Absent strong privacy legislation to regulate the behavior of commercial entities and their handling of data associated with internet users, none of the above initiatives is sufficient to provide the users of IE-SPYAD and AGNIS the protection they seek from advertisers and marketers. By installing and using IE-SPYAD and AGNIS, users choose to take their privacy and security into their own hands and elect not to accept the above initiatives as sufficient guarantees of their privacy and security.
For a more complete discussion of why the above initiatives are not sufficient guarantees of privacy and security, please see the following web page:
No Recommendation to Block/Restrict
Nothing in this "Targeting and Inclusion Policy" or the IE-SPYAD and AGNIS lists themselves constitutes a recommendation by the author of IE-SPYAD and AGNIS that users block or restrict the content and functionality of the sites included in those lists. The IE-SPYAD and AGNIS lists are tools that are provided "as is," and the user assumes all responsibility for the use of those lists. Please see the "LICENSE.TXT" included with the IE-SPYAD and AGNIS distribution packages for more information.
No Commitment to Exclude/Remove
Nothing in this "Targeting and Inclusion Policy" or the IE-SPYAD and AGNIS lists themselves constitutes a commitment or guarantee to exclude or remove sites and domains from those lists. While this policy attempts to describe the functionality and behavior that will cause sites and domains to be included, the IE-SPYAD and AGNIS lists may target other web sites and domains if there are reports that those sites and domains are engaged in pushing unwanted web pages, content, network connections, or software on users. In other words, IE-SPYAD and AGNIS may target domains and web sites engaged in behavior not contemplated in this policy. The description of advertising and marketing behavior and functionality in this policy is not necessarily comprehensive and does not constitute a commitment not to target domains and sites for other behavior or functionality.
The author of the IE-SPYAD and AGNIS lists can be contacted at:
The AGNIS and IE-SPYAD lists are distributed in downloadable packages from
the following web site:
If you feel that a site or domain has been wrongly or mistakenly included, you can contact the author at the above email address. In your email please provide a short explanation of why you think the sites and domains you specify should not be included in IE-SPYAD or AGNIS. Please keep in mind, though, that the following excuses will not be accepted as reasons for removing sites and domains from AGNIS and IE-SPYAD:
- "But we have a P3P compact policy..."
- "But IE6 accepts our cookies at the highest setting..."
- "But our web site is Truste certified..."
- "But we don't engage in spamming..."
- "But we don't distribute spyware..."
- "But our advertising/marketing only introduces people
to products and services that they may find useful..."
- "But I swear we don't do bad things..."
- "Trust me, trust us..."
Bottom line: if your company is engaged in advertising or marketing activity
of any kind, then your company's sites and domains are potential targets for
IE-SPYAD and AGNIS.
This Policy, IE-SPYAD, and AGNIS are:
Copyright (c) 2000-2004 Eric L. Howes
This Policy Last Updated: 2/29/04