Is Eudora snooping on you?

That's the situation we currently find with the Eudora 4.3 e-mail client. And while the company that makes the program, Qualcomm, says no "personal information" is being sent to their servers, data is being sent from the program to a Qualcomm server, and most users probably don't know it.

People who download the popular mail client are probably familiar with the three levels of the program: Sponsored, Paid, and Light. As described by Eudora, Sponsored mode is "free with ads." Paid mode "costs money, [with] no ads," and Light mode is "free, [with] fewer features." So if you don't want to pay for the program, you can see Web-based ads or pick the Light version with no ads at all. End of story, right?

Well, not so fast. Recently a reader sent us an e-mail about an odd behavior he noticed while using Eudora. First, he tried out the full-featured, Sponsored version. Then he tested the free Light version, and found that it had all the features he needed.

When he connected to the Internet, he noticed something strange. The program was contacting a Eudora server, even though he was using the ostensibly ad-free Eudora Light.

"Eudora was clear about its fetching ads in the 'full-featured, free, paid-by-ads' mode, and I have no problem with that," the reader told us. "But the fact that after choosing the limited-feature mode the program continued connecting was totally unexplained and probably goes on undetected by the majority of users."

Qualcomm's Response

We sent an e-mail to Qualcomm and immediately received a response from the company's director of marketing for Eudora products, Jeremy James.

"Yes, Eudora 4.3.x in Light mode does touch the server periodically," James wrote. "The program checks to see whether the logo of a cobranding affiliate should appear in the Light and Sponsored modes."

In addition, "Eudora 4.3.x periodically touches the server to see if there is a newer version of Eudora available. This happens in all three modes of Eudora 4.3.x."

Qualcomm currently has a cobranding agreement with 3Com, which bundles Eudora with some of its modems. James said Qualcomm "would not consider a logo in an interface an advertisement. We wouldn't dispute that there's a marketing objective to displaying a logo. But it's not like ads are rotating though [Eudora's interface]."

James strongly emphasised that the Eudora applications do not transmit anything that can identify the user.

A Question of Privacy?

"This isn't unique to Eudora," says Robert Ellis Smith, publisher of the Privacy Journal, a monthly newsletter covering privacy and technology. Smith cites similar behavior from Real Networks' RealPlayer, which checks in the background for software updates. "Currently [Eudora] doesn't disclose personal information. Still, the intrusion of something on your screen [telling you whether an upgrade is available] is an invasion of privacy. It may be an acceptable one, but it is an invasion."

Our Eudora-using reader said it this way: "I don't expect that a mail client has any need to connect to external servers except when it is sending or receiving mail. Today such connections need to be documented and announced."

Qualcomm's James sees it differently: "If you go to the Help menu and select Payment & Registration and click on Find the Latest Version, you will have done manually what Eudora does automatically."

While you can't turn off the logo-serving function in Sponsored or Light mode, you can disable the function that checks for upgrades. And James says the company will update the Eudora privacy statement to let users know that Eudora contacts company Internet servers in all modes.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Heltzel

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?