About Mattel (Brodcast): www.mattel.com - www.mattelinteractive.com - www.mattelmedia.com
On June 15, 2000 an article published on Salon broke the news that Mattel software included Brodcast which utilized its DSSAgent.exe to send information from users computers to Mattel. It was also used to send unsolicited information on product offerings and discounts to users.
Once the story broke Mattel, who of course "takes customer concerns seriously," announced it would provide an uninstaller for Brodcast. Particularly sleazy was their pronouncement that they hadn't violated COPPA because it was software, not a website, that was doing the dirty work (see CNN story below).
Caution: On software CD-ROMs prior to passage of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act in 1998, no indication was given during software installations that Brodcast was also being installed. Mattel says the install package was changed at that time so that "...the program gives you a choice as to whether
you want the Brodcast technology installed." When the Salon article's author tried the new CD-ROMs he found "...that even if you tell the installer that you don't want to use Brodcast, the installer puts the program on your computer anyway."
Although most media attention has been focused on children's software, Brodcast has also been found in adult software titles.
Links & News
Advertising Spyware: DSSAGENT.exe cexx.org/dssagent.htm
This is a page from the framed Counterexploitation cexx.org site (pulled for easy access here). Visit the full site for more great stuff.
Software that can spy on you www.salon.com/tech/col/garf/2000/06/15/brodcast/
June 15, 2000: "Why did Mattel include technology that can encrypt and send data to and from your PC in its children's CD-ROMs?"
Mattel removes software feature over privacy concerns news.cnet.com
June 26, 2000: "Mattel maintains its software doesn't fall under the [Children's Online Privacy Protection] act because the company is not a Web site or online service and the information transmitted isn't personal. Instead, it sends a product identification number and some technical information and downloads advertising products targeted toward the user."
Mattel & Mattel Interactive Privacy Policies www.mattel.com/common/policy.html
Both sites collect "anonymous" information from cookies and clickstream data and their policies are similar in content. The Mattel policy states "Mattel is committed to protecting your on-line privacy when visiting any web sites operated by us or our family of companies, such as The Learning Company. We do not collect and keep any personal information from you unless you volunteer it and you are 13 or older."
"We also do not collect and keep personal information on-line from children under the age of 13 without their parent's consent." But further down the page: "On our websites for children, we do not collect personal information on-line from children under 13 without their parent's consent except in special, limited circumstances."
Information that might be collected in these circumstances can include email address, home address, and telephone number. Mattel states "Any information your child gives us in the above special circumstances will be deleted from our database once the promotion, program or activity is concluded, and after any legally required period for keeping such information is complete."
Opt-Out Option: No opt out cookie provided.
Privacy Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Uninstall Brodcast DSSAgent
Brodcast (DSSAgent) Uninstaller: www.mattelsupport.com/broadcastpatch.asp
The Uninstaller is available for Windows 9x, 2k and NT4. The Registry should be checked after using the Mattel patch to ensure all traces of DSSAgent have been removed. Brodcast cannot be removed by Steve Gibson's free OptOut! utility.
Mattel Interactive Software
Brodcast was created by Brøderbund which was bought by The Learning Tree which was then bought by Mattel. As a definitive list of software including Brodcast isn't available, all older software from Broderbund, The Learning Tree and Mattel are suspect. The following is a partial list of Mattel Interactive software from their main page www.mattelinteractive.com:
Education: Arthur®, Berlitz®, Carmen Sandiego, ClueFinders®, Dr. Seuss®, KidPix, Learn to Speak, Madeline, Oregon Trail®, Reader Rabbit®, Schoolhouse Rock!®, Sesame Street®
Edutainment: ABarbie®, Generation Girl, HotWheels®, Sesame Street®
Entertainment: ChessMaster®, Creatures, Dogz®, Earth 2150, Myst®, Masterpiece
Home Design: 3D Home Architect®, 3D Home Design, Total 3D Home, Total 3D Landscape
Legal/Financial: Quicken® Family Lawyer®
LifeStyle: Virtual Makeover.
Print Creativity: AG® Creatacard, AG® Holiday Design, ClickArt® Infinity, The Print Shop®, PrintMaster®
Reference: Compton's® Encyclopedia, National Geographic
Religion: Membership Plus®, QuickVerse®
Utilities: Address Book, Atomic Clock, Calendar Creator, Internet Tuneup, ScreenShot
Updated Aug 28-00
Quoted excerpts are © Mattel unless otherwise noted.
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