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URL snooping is a process in which a software package, often called a URL snooper, downloads a Web stream as a file so that it can be stored for future access. URL snooping is an approach to stream recording that uses software that makes the process easier. URL snooping methods can be used to determine the location where the streaming media is coming from, and this location can be used to save the source file. Often, users only need to download the software and then play the multimedia stream they wish to download while the program is running. It is the simplest form of stream recording because it does not involve the implementation of streaming protocol or require any data decoding.
Although the use of the word snooping may make this term sound like a stealth operation or invasion of privacy, this process is used mostly in reference to tools that are meant to enable users in various ways. In addition to showcasing a user’s clickstream or continuous Internet use and video viewing, some URL snooping tools can also help users look at what other individuals are viewing. While it’s easy for some users to envision how sharing and broadcasting Internet search history can affect how people use the Web, others question what value this kind of service can have and whether it really empowers users. Critics of Web snooping argue that it's likely to become another marketing or corporate research method in the future.