User Choices and Regret: Understanding Users’ Decision Process About Consensually Acquired Spyware

I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 283-344, 2006

62 Pages Posted: 22 May 2013  

Nathaniel Good

University of California, Berkeley - School of Information

Jens Grossklags

Pennsylvania State University

David Thaw

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law; University of Pittsburgh - School of Information Sciences; Yale University - Information Society Project; University of Pittsburgh - Graduate School of Public & International Affairs

Aaron Perzanowski

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Deirdre K. Mulligan

University of California, Berkeley - School of Information

Joseph Konstan

University of Minnesota

Date Written: May 1, 2006

Abstract

Spyware is software which monitors user actions, gathers personal data, and/or displays advertisements to users. While some spyware is installed surreptitiously, a surprising amount is installed on users’ computers with their active participation. In some cases, users agree to accept spyware as part of a software bundle as a cost associated with gaining functionality they desire. In many other cases, however, users are unaware that they installed spyware, or of the consequences of that installation. This lack of awareness occurs even when the functioning of the spyware is explicitly declared in the end user license agreement (EULA). We argue and demonstrate that poor interface design contributes to the difficulty end users experience when trying to manage their computing environment. This paper reviews the legal, technical, and design issues related to the installation of spyware bundled with other software. It reports on results of an experiment in which thirty-one users were asked to configure computers, deciding which software to install from a set of software that included disclosed spyware. The results suggest that current EULA interfaces do little to encourage informed decision-making and that simpler interfaces with key terms highlighted have potential to improve informed decision-making.

Keywords: Privacy, Notice, End User License Agreement, EULA, Security and Usability, Spyware, Terms of Service, ToS

Suggested Citation

Good, Nathaniel and Grossklags, Jens and Thaw, David and Perzanowski, Aaron and Mulligan, Deirdre K. and Konstan, Joseph, User Choices and Regret: Understanding Users’ Decision Process About Consensually Acquired Spyware (May 1, 2006). I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 283-344, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2262437

Nathaniel Good

University of California, Berkeley - School of Information ( email )

102 South Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-4600
United States

Jens Grossklags

Pennsylvania State University ( email )

College of Information Sciences and Technology
IST Building
University Park, PA 16802
United States

David Thaw (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.davidthaw.com

University of Pittsburgh - School of Information Sciences ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

Yale University - Information Society Project ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

University of Pittsburgh - Graduate School of Public & International Affairs ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15260-0001
United States

Aaron Perzanowski

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.theendofownership.com

Deirdre K. Mulligan

University of California, Berkeley - School of Information ( email )

102 South Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-4600
United States

Joseph Konstan

University of Minnesota ( email )

110 Wulling Hall, 86 Pleasant St, S.E.
308 Harvard Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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