A few examples of what I'm talking about:

  1. Android has a permissions system that allows two values for each access request from installed software: yes or no. However if Android tried to benefit the user as much as possible, it would also have a "pretend" mode where the user could fake the permissions in order to run the software.
  2. Android likewise has a "managed" mode, where users can give access to their phone to a third party in exchange for access to certain encryption keys. This is most commonly used for corporate email. But Android could also have a "fake managed" mode, where it only pretends to give out third party access for maximum benefit to the user.
  3. Google Chrome has a managed mode, where corporations can force it to behave in ways that are detrimental to the user, such as preventing it from accessing certain websites. But once again - Google could allow the user to invisibly override any such restrictions.

Is there a word or an expression that describes what I'm talking about?

  • An expression that describes? "Capitalism", maybe? "Dictatorship"?
    – Steve
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 16:07
  • 2
    Don't you call that malware?
    – Jim
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 16:14
  • @Jim, yes, except malware doesn't have to benefit anyone
    – Toothrot
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 16:46
  • 3
    @Toothrot - If malware didn't benefit anyone, it wouldn't exist. Someone, somewhere derives some (perverse) benefit, pleasure, utility, from it.
    – Jim
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 16:53
  • @Jim, if you include pleasure, I think you are broadening the meaning of benefit beyond what is reasonable in this context
    – Toothrot
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 16:57

2 Answers 2


I don't know any specific word, but there is this famous expression which expresses a (kind of) similar idea: "If you're not paying for the product, you are the product."

(sorry I couldn't find the origin)


Using software requires an agreement between the creator and the user referred to as an "end-user license agreement". The creator of the software offers functionality and the user agrees to the conditions specified by the software creator.

If the creator of the software
- benefits from the functionality at the expense of the user
- provides functionality in the software for third parties that benefits them at the expense of the user
It could be said that the software is:

In any agreement there are at least two sides to a perspective. If the software is functioning as designed and as specified in the end-user license agreement the software creator might say that both parties freely came to an agreement and therefore none of these terms is correct.

  • That is not the OED. Please fix all these fake links.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 22:29
  • @tchrist The previously linked search page uses from the free side of OED to provide definitions. I linked to the search page to offer the opportunity to easily see other definitions given by other dictionaries. the citation has been updated to prevent confusion and the link goes directly to en.oxforddictionaries.com.
    – David D
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 14:25

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