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French Version

INTERFACE : Fighting back against net-intrusion

That\'s why there are a number of \'ad-blockers\' available for download which actually prevent most of these advertisements from crowding your screen.

JORDAN (Star) - If you\'re tired of all the advertisements \'thrown\' at you whenever you open an Internet web site, then you\'re not alone. Millions of users all over the world are sick of \'pop-ups\' and invading banners that disturb your surfing experience at your favorite web sites. That\'s why there are a number of \'ad-blockers\' available for download which actually prevent most of these advertisements from crowding your screen.

Although none of these tools can guarantee completely advertising-free Internet surfing, they provide more control over technologies that might otherwise have existed and operated without detection. The most famous ad-stoppers are Catchup, AdAware, Zone Alarm, Popup Terminator, Popup Killer, Popup Stopper Pro, Tiny Personal Firewall and many more. All are available at various sites, and a simple search on Google or Yahoo will yield hundreds of download sites for these anti-intrusion programs.

Zone Alarm, in particular, is very popular with over 15 million downloads so far. CatchUp is next with nearly 10 million downloads, followed by AdAware which has been downloaded by seven million users.

Legislators and Internet authorities are starting to discuss the excessive advertising that users face, and while they work out regulations or standards of some sort, your only resort is these anti-ad programs.

The average Internet user still doesn\'t know much about these programs, as the number of downloads suggests that only a small portion of users worldwide have utilized these programs. It seems, at this stage, that only tech-savvy users are the ones benefiting from ad-stoppers. This is set to change with time, causing some serious concern for Internet site owners and operators who depend on advertising revenue to survive. In the Middle East, the top web sits are only starting to use new advertising technologies and are also just starting to hear complaints, but the majority of their users don\'t seem to be bothered. Either that, or they don\'t know of an alternative software solution to relieve them of these advertisements!

Apart from ad-blocking, these programs are now evolving to tackle more serious invasions of privacy such as \'cookies\'- the bits of code placed on hard drives by web sites to gather information about visitors. This personal information about you could be sold to marketers who, then, bombard you with all sorts of promotions and advertising. Programs like Gator, for example, which has been downloaded by some 12 million users worldwide, is a useful password management program which remembers all your user names and passwords that you sign in with at various sites.

The problem is that marketers are now using free programs like Gator or other utilities to \'piggyback\' their spying-software as an additional download which tracks consumer behavior and reports the information to marketing companies. Using that information, these marketers develop specifically targeted advertisements.

Countering that concern, programs like Zone Alarm and AdAware create a \"firewall\" designed to prevent such installed programs from communicating with the outside world. This means that the downloaded software might be able to track or monitor your surfing habits, but won\'t be able to send the information back to its parent company without your approval. Once you\'ve got Zone Alarm running on your PC, you\'ll be amazed at the number of times it asks you whether or not you approve to send information to these sites.

Previously, this information was automatically sent, without notice. What a blatant invasion of privacy! Simply, put ad-stoppers and anti-spying programs are tools for you to fight back. If you\'d like to exercise more control over your surfing privacy, while relieving your eyes of unwanted advertisements; check out these programs and read more about them. As a consumer, it\'s your right.

Zeid Nasser, Star Staff Writer
The Star

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