Posted 08 December 2008 - 08:33 PM
Read the TOS ("Terms Of Service) for Magic Jack VERY closely. You might be surprised at what you see there. Or NOT see there. I've pointed out issues with Magic Jack in earler articles on Broadband Nation (see archives). But this revelation should make you VERY concerned.
In short ... to quote a favorite cartoon character .... "Be Afwaid, Very Afwaid".
This is just pointing out the not-so-obvious that is hidden deep within the TOS, and other 'gotcha's' that you won't realize until after you give up your $ and privacy!
Here is the contact info for MagicJack:
PO BOX 6785
West Palm Beach, FL 33405
Magic Jack Phone number: 281-404-1551
Billing MagicJack number: 561-594-2140
CAUTION: it looks like they track the number that calls and places you into a repeating loop if you call back a second time. so if you need to call a second time make sure its from a different number.
In the TOS you agree that everything in your computer is fair game for them to know about, all web sites, email, and numbers called are there info.
You agree to have all of your information resold to third parties.
There is no Un install for this program. Even if you stop using it, it gathers your information.
You are put under high pressure to sign up and pay for 5 years.
There is no published phone number, email address, or mailing address.
All customer support is done via type in the box chat.
There is no written warranty on the box. It breaks, you buy another to maintain your service.
Computer must be left on to make or receive calls.
Pop up window comes to front of screen anytime there is a call in or out call.
MajicJack Spyware slows down your computer even when you are not using MagicJack
Advertising is in the pop up box.
And yes, you do save around $150 a year not using a real Voip company.
At what little price people put on the information and security.
So ask yourself, is it really worth it?
Wait .... there's more.
Majic Jack is owned and run by YMAX. They are not a stand alone VoIP provider.
"The software for the MagicJack does not run directly from the device. It fully installs on the Windows system, which also makes the MagicJack less attractive for situations where one might want to use it on someone else's computer (say when visiting family). Making this even worse, there was no easy way to uninstall the software from the system, with the program not even showing up in the Windows Remove Program window. UPDATE: MagicJack confirmed that there is currently no easy way to uninstall the software. The process required to uninstall the software requires multiple Windows Registry edits and the removal of several folders on the Windows system. Based on this, I wouldn't recommend using the MagicJack on the systems of friends, family or business associates." -- (see magicjack fails to cast a voip spell)
Nobody should accept having to leave unwanted software on a personal computer, or any tell-tale trace of the MJ program on a public computer, a business workstation, or a borrowed device.
The key concepts here are action and intent. IF MJ is not actively monitoring computer activity and collecting data about its customers, that's great. They would be taking no action that anyone could be concerned about.
But consider their intent. Their TOS spell out their intent -- the intent to feed context sensitive advertising, which requires manipulation of information from your brain through their software into their processors. There seems to be little restriction of what info their software can see. (Kind of like your home builder installing bugging devices and cameras into your bedroom, just not yet watching the feed.) Then there is the ability of MJ to modify their software (upgrape, anyone?) at any time, without the common user's ability to stop it, and that revision could include the spyware coding. While you, the uncommon user, have the ability to see what they are doing, the common user has no idea when the change is made. Now let's consider MJ's intent of not building in an UNINSTALL capability. I am suggesting that this exposes MJ's intent to have their software on your PC whether you're an active phone customer or not. What would be the intent of having that software on the PC of a former customer? (Consider, also, their "convenience" feature of taking the device with you so you can use it on a friend's PC -- thus installing the software on that machine, too!) What information could that software obtain that would be of value to MJ? And what could the common user do to stop it?
MJ could shut down their phone service tomorrow, and they have a window into 1 million PCs -- to feed advertising, log key strokes, and obtain surfing patterns.
By laughing at the TOS provisions, you are overlooking that they are warning you of their intent -- and protecting themselves from future legal action. "We told them what we were going to do. It was in our terms of service and the customers agreed." Case dismissed.
Several years ago there was another nice utility that was offered -- Weather Bug. Everyone liked Weather Bug. You downloaded a program and it was nice enough to give you accurate weather forecasts -- while it spied on you. That little program helped popularize the anti-spyware industry, which now extracts $50 a year out of millions of users.
Action: not guilty.
Intent: too soon to know for sure, but all the clues are right out there in the sunshine. You won't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure this one out.
From their EULA:
“You also understand and agree that use of the magicJack device and Software will include advertisements and that these advertisements are necessary for the magicJack device to work … Our computers may analyze the phone numbers you call in order to improve the relevance of the ads”.
Any claims, legal proceeding or litigation arising in connection with the magicJack device or Software will be resolved by binding arbitration … in Palm Beach, Florida.”
In short, it not only has one agree to ads with its paid-for system, but claims that the ads are necessary for it to work. It will also snoop on your calls to target ads more accurately, and has you sign away your legal right to take it to court if it defrauds or otherwise harms you. Delightful.
Neither the EULA itself, nor any other privacy or legal information, can be easily found at its homepage. It’s not even provided at the point of sale, where one enters credit card info, email and street addresses as such, so as to gain access to the service and have your MagicJack dongle delivered. I found the EULA’s URL through Google.
When you access MajicJack’s instant web help page, a bizarre series of “compatibility tests” take place first, reporting lies like “Your MagicJack is functioning properly” even if you don’t have one installed.
// the interval (ms) between new visitors
var interval = Math.round(86400000/perday);
As if targeted advertising, systematic privacy invasion, and the signing away of your legal rights wasn’t evil enough!