Beware the "FREE" Juno service agreement!


I heard that Juno’s free service has some strings attached that allows them to use your computer for their purposes. Is this true?

- Ed


This question was answered on February 16, 2001. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The old saying “There is no such thing as a free lunch” seems to apply rather well in this case Free ISP’s have all struggled to make ends meet because their income is derived mainly from the advertising they display to their users.

In a stroke of genius, someone at Juno figured out how to generate additional income from the users of their free service (not their paying customers) They would make use of the “distributed computing” scheme that uses many computers at once to solve large computational problems and sell that computing power to third parties

Buried in the 16 page online service agreement in the “Obligations” section is the following:

2.5 You expressly permit and authorize Juno to (i) download to your computer one or more pieces of software (the "Computational Software") designed to perform computations, which may be unrelated to the operation of the Service, on behalf of Juno (or on behalf of such third parties as may be authorized by Juno, subject to the Privacy Statement), (ii) run the Computational Software on your computer to perform and store the results of such computations, and (iii) upload such results to Juno's central computers during a subsequent connection…

Juno may require you to leave your computer turned on at all times, and may replace the "screen saver" software that runs on your computer

…you expressly permit and authorize Juno to initiate a telephone connection from your computer to Juno's central computers…

Basically, if you install the Free Juno service software, you are agreeing to let them make use of your computer when you are not using it It will make use of your processor and empty hard drive space to perform computations that will later be uploaded to their central computers This does not mean that they are using any of your programs or data, but they are making use of your hardware when you are not.

In my opinion, they are asking to take part ownership of your computer in exchange for free Internet access.

This process of simultaneously using large numbers of computers that are connected to the Internet is not new The most widely known project on the Internet is the SETI Institute Online, or Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence <a href="" target="_blank"><font color="#003399">(</font></a> Roughly 2.8 million households have donated their unused computer time to the project

The difference, of course, is that they did this willingly because they want to help track down E.T My concern with Juno’s approach is that I doubt many of the users realize what they are signing up for (When was the last time you actually read the entire license or service agreement when you were installing a piece of software?)

My experience with most of the free ISP’s is that they load software on your computer that just bogs it down and makes the surfing process rather annoying My advice, pay your way!

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Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on February 16, 2001