Snoop software gains power and raises privacy concerns

Friday, 10 October 2003, 9:03 AM EST

Earlier this year, Rick Eaton did something unusual in the world of high technology: he made his product weaker.

Mr. Eaton is the founder of TrueActive, which makes a computer program that buyers can install on a target computer and monitor everything that the machine's user does on the PC.

Spying with software has been around for several years but Mr. Eaton decided that one new feature in his program crossed a line between monitoring and snooping.

That feature is called "silent deploy," which allows the buyer to place the program on someone else's computer secretly via e-mail, without having physical access to the machine. To Mr. Eaton, that constituted an invitation to install unethical and even illegal wiretaps. He made the change, he said, "so we could live with ourselves."

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