The PRWIRE Press Releases https:// 2001-09-04T18:02:00Z Businesses are spying on Internet users 2001-09-04T18:02:00Z businesses-are-spying-on-internet-users Businesses are using spying software to monitor web surfers' use of the Internet. This is one of the preliminary findings of an RMIT University study by Dr Adam Gatt, who is undertaking the research project as part of his Master of E-Business, to assess the enforceability of click-wrap agreements on the Internet. Click wrap agreements are non-negotiable agreements on the Internet. A user must agree to the terms and conditions before accessing the site, downloading software, or purchasing a product or service. The user generally cannot proceed unless they mouse-click the "I Accept" icon. However, Dr Gatt has found that some Internet businesses exploit the trust and ignorance of consumers by using insidious software programs to secretly transmit information back to the website owner so that they learn more about consumer tastes and preferences. These programs, which have come to be known as "Spyware", exploit a user's Internet connection without the user's knowledge or explicit permission and might be used to quietly track and/or profile the user's Internet surfing habits, activities and choices made while they move across the Internet. These profiles might end up in a database and used or sold for ongoing marketing analysis. Dr Gatt says if this is the "information superhighway", then the use of spyware is highway robbery. He warns consumers that free software is not always free as it sounds and strongly recommends that Internet users should read the agreements before clicking the "I Accept" icon. Dr Gatt took on the research project as part of studies in e-business law. He created a website, which he launched in May, then started promoting the site. The project quickly grew beyond his original expectations and in approximately six weeks the survey received over 700 responses from users from more than 30 countries. Dr Gatt is seeking continued support from the community to complete his on-line survey which can be found at: seven.bf.rmit.edu.au/clickwrap.