Hey there! Welcome to the BonziBuddy shrine. Although this little guy caused more harm than good as an early virtual assistant in the late 90's and early 2000's, I still find his function and tale very interesting. I hope you enjoy reading this!


Brief Development History

BonziBuddy was a free virtual assistant created by Jay and Joe Bonzi. It used Microsoft Agent technolgy to create an assistant simular to those in Microsoft Office. At first they used the green parrot Peedy, but as time went on they changed the mascot into the purple gorrilla, Bonzi.

What did he do?

Bonzi wasn't a particularlly useful assistant if you knew the basic skills to use a computer, but he still did add some cool features to your desktop. At the user's request, he could tell facts, say jokes, sing, talk, manage downloads, help you email, schedule, and use the internet. Most of these were simply functions that could entertain the user when they were board, the download manager was probably the msot useful part of BonziBuddy. Unfortunatly, these simple functions were not all the BonziBuddy assistant did.

Bonzi's Controversies

Over the years, BonziBuddy has been widely recognized as a piece of adware, although some believe that the virtual assistant is a form of spyware too. Many places, such as Spyware Guide believe that this program is simply adware. The Spyware Removal Database states that "BonziBuddy is an Internet Explorer toolbar that may change your web browser settings, change your home page, and launch pop-up advertisements while tracking your web browsing habits." Other sources, such as an article in Comsumer Reporst uWeb Tracking states that BonziBuddy was a backdoor trojan piece of spyware. The program would reset the users web browser home page to without asking the user first, tracks data about the user and asks for personal information from the user on top of pop-up ads that looked like windows alerts. These are typical functions of spyware, which leads most people to believe that this was a piece of spyware.

As a result of these deciveing practices, BonziBuddy found itself in a lot of lawsuits. According to Wikipedia, in December 2003, "the suit accused Bonzi of using its banner advertisements to deceptively imitate Windows computer alerts, alerting the user that their IP address is being broadcast". BonziBuddy agreed to modify their ads so they look more like advertisments and less like windows alerts in the settlement. Two years later, in 2004, the Federal Trade Commission released a statement stating that Bonzi Software, Inc. was ordered to pay $75,000 in fees for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting information from children who were under the age of 13.