Spyware—which has many names, including privacy-invasive software, negative technology, and passive data collection technology—is part of malware (mal referring to the Latin root meaning of “bad”), which is a generic term for any software created with malicious intentions, including spying. Although there is no one official definition, the most common notion is that spyware is software designed to make use of a user’s own Internet connection without his or her knowledge or conscious permission, in order to upload that user’s private data to a remote destination. There are many variations on this theme, but the most striking elements are (a) secrecy of operation, (b) surreptitious communication with a third party, and (c) gathering of information without owner consent.

The types of information gathered by spyware include ...

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