Friday, February 2, 2001

Juno - Free Email for Megahertz

The Details

As of January 18, Juno's new service agreement has been in effect. As with all service agreements of this nature, they notify you of a change, and if you continue to use the service, you are bound by it.

So what? Well, there's a new feature that Juno offers. In exchange for using their free service, you agree to let them run some software on your computer. Modeled after the distributed computing model, made common knowledge by SETI @ Home, Juno is planning to use the computers of its users to crunch data. Section 2.5 of the agreement details this below. The salient points:

  • Juno makes you use a screen saver, possibly laden with advertisements, in order to run their distributed computing software. You cannot interfere with its operation.
  • Juno can ask you to leave your computer on at all times so the software can crunch away. You, of course, absorb the electric bill.
  • If you don't dial in often enough, Juno can call your computer and upload the data, whether or not you care. It is completely up to Juno's discretion. you could pay for the phone call, too.
  • If the software kills your system, that's your problem.

But hey, it is a free service. What will be interesting to see is where people feel that free service is valuable enough to allow this software to run. And if it does, could this business model catch on. And how will people respond to the privacy issues? Juno claims it will all fall under their privacy statement, also amended January 18. Ultimately, will people care? Was there enough backlash against Yahoo! or Geocities to really impact them? Somehow I think this will really only affect the people who run SETI @ Home.

Excerpt of Section 2.5 of the Juno Service Agreement

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, whether initiated by you in the course of using the Service or by the Computational Software as further described below. In connection with downloading and running the Computational Software, 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 while the computer is turned on but you are not using it. The screen saver software installed by Juno, which may display advertisements or other images chosen by Juno, is an integral part of the Computational Software and you agree not to take any action to disable or interfere with the operation of either the screen saver software or any other component of the Computational Software. You agree that, as between you and Juno, you shall be responsible for any costs or expenses resulting from the continuous operation of your computer, including without limitation any associated charges for electricity, and that you shall have sole responsibility for any maintenance or technical issues that might result from such continuous operation. [...] If your usage of the Service is infrequent, Juno's ability to obtain the results of completed computations may be impaired. Consequently, you expressly permit and authorize Juno to initiate a telephone connection from your computer to Juno's central computers using a dial-in telephone number you have previously selected for accessing the Service; Juno agrees that it shall exercise such right only to the extent necessary, as determined in Juno's sole discretion, to upload the results of completed computations to Juno in a timely fashion; and you agree that, as between you and Juno, you shall be responsible for any costs and expenses (including without limitation any applicable telephone charges) resulting from the foregoing. Juno agrees that any software, data, or other materials downloaded to your computer in connection with the activities described in this Section 2.5 will comply with Juno's privacy policies, as reflected in the Privacy Statement. [...]

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