Re: Surreptitious reporting...

Subject: Re: Surreptitious reporting...
From: Geoff Lane <geoff -at- gjctech -dot- co -dot- uk>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 25 Sep 2009 17:08:50 +0100

On Friday, September 25, 2009, Sharon Burton wrote;

> OK, let's all calm down a bit. This is a massive over-reaction. Let's take a
> deep breath. Now we're throwing claims around that MadCap is breaking the
> law and we should all demand a refund of all MadCap products and complain to
> the FTC. And claiming that those at MadCap should be ashamed of themselves
> for pushing the product.

> Sigh.

> No one is collecting *personal* information of any sort in Feedback. None.
> Not a drop. No information other than any basic web server you visit is
> being collected. Not a drop more.

> *Nothing* is installed on your computer, *nothing* is being "sent".

Sharon: in a earlier post you wrote that Madcap track usage of its
product's help. Something is installed - i.e. the Madcap product. I'm
not a Madcap user, but from what you and others have written, I assume
that the help is installed locally also.

If a Madcap product tracks usage of that help and causes the computer
to send even anonymized data to either Madcap or a third party without
the computer user/owner's express permission the chances are that
activity is in violation of the Computer Misuse Act in UK (and since
most EU member states have similar legislation, in those countries
also).

However, if the computer that generates the data is Madcap's property,
the chances are that's not in violation of the CMA. Unfortunately, the
Madcap website at least implies that this information is collected
from even locally installed help (I did look before posting) and even
"dialling home" to report that a particular topic was accessed is
sufficient to contravene the CMA AFAICT. From the Madcap website:

How it works:
1. Create Content ? Author a project in Flare and create desired
output(s).
2. Implement Feedback ? Install Feedback on your company web server
or choose MadCap's hosted service.
3. Output with Feedback ? Within Flare, choose to include Feedback
Web 2.0 features in your target output(s).
4. Users Submit Feedback ? Users viewing your content can now rate
and comment on quality and usefulness of a topic.
5. Analyze Results ? View search activity, user comments and ratings.
6. Improve Content ? Add search synonyms, edit, and add new content
based on user feedback.

and from another page:

Feedback Explorer
Available both within the Flare interface and as a separate
application, the Feedback Explorer allows content authors to view
and track all reader activity via a user-friendly interface

Obviously, user comments and ratings have to be authorised, but you
wrote that the topics accessed were also recorded "invisibly to the
user", which I infer to mean without their express permission. If this
is not the case, please accept my apologies for the misunderstanding.
However, I'm not the only one on this forum who's read your posts and
Madcap's website and come to that conclusion.

--
Geoff

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of
Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.
http://www.doctohelp.com/SuperPages/Webcasts/

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control! http://www.helpandmanual.com/

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Surreptitious reporting...: From: David Neeley
RE: Surreptitious reporting...: From: Sharon Burton

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