Friday, February 10, 2006

VOIP Startup Isn't Quite Spyware, But It's Close

It certainly sounds like Spyware to me. A crook who is willing to admit he is a crook is still a crook.

By Mark HachmanFebruary 10, 2006
A startup called Jajah launched its new VOIP service this past Monday, making telephone calls as easy as loading a Web page. But in doing so, customers may essentially be granting Jajah sweeping access to watch and even listen as they chat and surf the Web.

The
Jajah VOIP service launched Monday, although the company began trials last year. For now, Jajah is offering customers a free five minutes to call another landline phone.

The service is simple: upon loading the company's web page, users are presented with two boxes to fill in: the number of a friend's phone number, and the number of a landline phone close to the user. When the customer clicks the "Call" button, the Jajah service rings the user's landline, and then connects him via the Internet to the specified caller.

The company's
privacy policy and EULA, however, seem to imply that the service could be used as a window into a user's online activities, including monitoring a user's surfing habits and the content a user posts to message boards and web sites, sending him spam, disclosing personal information to third parties without control and consent, and even potentially allowing a third party to eavesdrop on the conversation.

Because the company technically discloses its practices, Internet security firms said they couldn't classify it as spyware. "They're doing nothing blatantly illegal," a spokeswoman from Webroot Software told ExtremeVOIP. "But they're just toeing the line, and we certainly don't agree with it by any means."

ExtremeVOIP attempted to contact Jajah executives, but company representatives did not respond to requests for comment. Jahjah is headquartered on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, Calif., one of the ley lines for technology venture capitalists, as well as in Luxembourg.

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