Saturday, February 3, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, February 3, 2001

Free subscribers to waive more control

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Juno Online Services Inc. may require subscribers of its free Internet service to give up more control over their computers, prompting complaints about privacy and security risks.

Juno, which now compels users to view ads and share marketing data, wants to raise more money by selling unused processing power from subscribers’ computers to research institutions and corporations.

Juno software would run whenever subscribers left their computers idle for a given period of time. The software would work like a screen saver and halt when the subscriber resumed computer use.

New terms posted on Juno’s Web site and publicized Thursday give Juno the right to require new and existing free Internet subscribers to leave computers on around the clock.

A user’s computer could even be programmed by Juno’s software automatically to call Juno’s systems with computational results if the user did not access the service frequently enough.

Richard Smith, chief technology officer for the Privacy Foundation, has qualms about opening up computers this way: "How do I know somebody isn’t messing with my data?"

Juno’s supercomputer network will run tests first using volunteers. But if it needs more computing power, said spokesman Gary Baker, the company may require it of the heaviest users, or of all users of the free service. Subscribers would have the option to upgrade to a paid service to avoid the requirement.

Baker said Juno would institute safeguards to prevent its partners from commanding computers inappropriately.

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