The adjective ‘notorious' and now defunct Zango Inc . seemed to be made for one another. In memorium, I'd like to add one another - fascinating.
Zango (formerly 180solutions) was utterly loathed by the small cadre of security researchers and concerned onlookers who care about spyware, but it wasn't because the company installed the Zango ‘Toolbar' without asking for permission to do so, or even for allowing third parties to co-opt the toolbar to direct users to real malware or porn without informing them first.
None of that was very laudable, but zango's unspoken crime was much much much worse. Zango had the gall to pretend to be legitimate, and to claim that its software was actually, yes, useful.
The toolbar wasn't a piece annoying crapware that bombarded users with pop-up ads, it was a way of helping Internet users buy things they didn't know they needed to buy by showing them targeted advertisements. And if it set itself up as the default search engine and registered users for something called ‘Shopperreports' as well, was that really so bad?
On the web, the gray area of what constitutes bad behaviour can be amazingly forgiving. One person's useful helper app can be another's intrusive spy-grabbing crap. Just ask Google after its recent bad week or two with Streetview or just about anyone who has ever fired up AOL's IM and got a web page of celebrity gossip as a thank you.
Web companies want eyeballs at almost any cost and focus - as Zango eventually did - on the issue of consent. As long as the user somehow ‘consents' to ruining their browsing life in a catch-all EULA then that's OK, except that everyone knows that voracious web users never and shouldn't have to read such things.
Is this the end of Zango's notorious toolbar? Probably not given that it is used by a range of third parties. This particular app will live on after the master of its deeds has long gone.