Viewpoint is distributed with a number of OEMs including, AOL, AOL Instant Messenger, Netscape 7, HP/Compaq, Toshiba, Hitachi, Sony to name a few.
It's still up for debate if it's spyware or not. But the problem is that when it's being installed on your computer, you're not informed of it upfront.
Here is their privacy statement:
Viewpoint Consumer Software and Your Privacy
At no time will we collect and store your personal information, nor will we request that you give us permission to do so.
Viewpoint is constantly innovating and implementing new features in The Viewpoint Media Player to provide the best possible user experience. For this reason, this site will continue to evolve as our software evolves. Please visit the site when we issue new versions and releases of Viewpoint to ensure that you have the most current information.
Regardless of how this Privacy Statement evolves with our software, however, Viewpoint will never collect your personally identifiable information without your consent. [and then in the next section....]
The Information That We Collect
To provide a satisfying consumer experience and to operate effectively, the Viewpoint Media Player periodically sends information to servers at Viewpoint. Each installation of the Viewpoint Media Player is identifiable to Viewpoint via a Customer Unique Identifier (CUID), an alphanumeric identifier embedded in the Viewpoint Media Player. The Viewpoint Media Player randomly generates the CUID during installation and uses it to indicate a unique installation of the product. A CUID is never connected to a user's name, email address, or other personal contact information. CUIDs are used for the sole purpose of filtering redundant information. Each of these information exchanges occurs anonymously.
Because the Viewpoint Media Player can update itself, we may need to update information regarding the plug-in as new software functionality evolves.
If you decide to download the Viewpoint Media Player from the Viewpoint website, Viewpoint will not request your name, email, or system information.
The Viewpoint Media Player is designed to check for the availability of software updates to ensure that you have the latest product improvements. When the Viewpoint Media Player checks for the availability of an update, basic information about the product version and installed components are sent anonymously to Viewpoint. This step determines whether new, free software is available for download.
The Viewpoint Media Player will soon be capable of tracking information about the content it displays and how the user interacts with it. When the Viewpoint Media Player displays Viewpoint content, it tracks the URL it is served from, as well as Viewpoint file data tagged by the author in XML. This data can include, but is not limited to: the names of objects and textures displayed, and the names of animations invoked.
What We Do with the Information We Collect
Much of the data sent by the Viewpoint Media Player is temporary data that is required only to enable a feature or service to be performed over the Internet. This data is discarded after its intended use is served. The information that we do store and track, we use in three ways:
+ To gather anonymous, aggregate statistical data to help us better understand the quality of our product and services and how they are used.
+ To provide our clients with information about how visitors to their sites use their content.
+ To provide services to help our clients enhance their products and presentation.
At no point is the CUID connected to a user's name, email address, or other personal contact information, nor will it be used in connection with the data provided to our clients.
From reading their privacy statement, it's definitely something I wouldn't want on my computer. I do recall some time ago, having a problem on one of my computers, and it led me to the un-installation of that program.
Another point to consider... Do you want anything on your computer that you specifically didn't install yourself, nor willingly known it was getting installed? I bet your answer is no
To other viewers:
Right now, go to your c:\program files\ folder and look to see if you have a folder named Viewpoint Media Player
. If you find it there, do you know where it came from? I'm betting that you don't.