What programs would you be referring to?
There's a lot of confusion on this point. People think there's a "disapproved list" that's being kept a secret, and that anything else is allowed. But in fact it's the opposite and always has been.
And let me say that I'm very sorry I can't provide links for this stuff. This represents only my accumulated knowledge. Also, in this post I address the bannings more generally. I apologize for the length of this post and please bring any inaccuracies to my attention.
Programs not on the approved list that interact with the game, or the client, or with the data stream are not allowed.
Certain programs don't need to be on the approved list because they don't actually do anything with the client data or the data stream. ICQ is allowed; it doesn't have anything to do with UO. Inside UO doesn't actually do anything to UO, it just lets you look at UO files easier. UO:Cartographer just presented map files that were already on the computer, and then kept track of but didn't alter data on your computer that related to where you were in-game. It didn't actually poke into the data stream, let alone modify it. And besides, it's since been approved by the Producer anyway. So now it's on both the "not needing approval" and "explicitly approved" lists.
Programs on the approved lists include UO Assist (which most everyone knows about), UO AutoMap (which has since been supplanted by UO:Cartographer anyway), and a few others.
Speeder XP is a program that its users claimed didn't do anything with the UO Client or the data stream (just over-clocked your processor), but EA said it investigated and it actually DID invade the data stream to do stuff. Thus, it's not allowed, just by definition. Sure, EA might have been lying. But, even though it was my long-time nemesis Wilki who delivered this message on Stratics, I don't think they were lying.
UO Razor is used on free shards to do what UO Assist does. However it can also do a lot more. For example it was used to change clothes really fast, long before the Enhanced Client made this ability a lot more common. However, even if you're just using Razor as "cheaper UOA," and not taking advantage of its other features, it's still not allowed because it interacts with the client and/or the data stream and it's not on the approved list.
Some people use Razor to help in house design and screencap editing and stuff, but not while the UO client is running, thus not actually messing with the client or the data stream. This use is apparently approved, if only tacitly. But personally it'd make me nervous.
Many otherwise-honest players I've known allow themselves to use UO Loop. This is a "repeat macro" utility that hitches itself to UOA. Word is, indeed, that it originally was a part of UOA but EA didn't approve it, fearing (correctly) that it'd lead to unattended macroing. Again, this program does stuff with the client and the data stream (even if indirectly, through UOA) and this requires approval to use. It doesn't have said approval.
Now, as to the recent bannings.....
Based on what's been said on Stratics and research I did on other message boards, the people were banned for the use of 2 programs. One is Easy UO, also known as "the scripting program." Easy UO is used in PvP for a variety of things.
Using Easy UO you can, according to its own documentation, automate pretty much any function in the game. People use it to make bucklers for donation, to train skills, to auto-heal without so much as lifting a finger (a tremendous advantage in any fight, PvP or PvM), to auto-target, to run scripted bots that gather information on vendor prices (hence the vendor database programs), gather and fill and turn-in Bulk Orders Deeds without any user attention whatsoever, loot specific items off of monsters, auto-insure stuff so there's no worry of losing something because you forgot to insure it, cast e-fields at the Shadowlords stronghold with a precision that only a computer can manage and while your other characters perform other functions, to script-discord a Peerless monster on a secondary character while your primary character (usually your Sampire) wastes it, etc.
It is a tremendous advantage and it's been very sad to see this program not addressed for so long.
Another program they banned for, based on the statements of those who were banned and their friends, is Cheat Engine.
Cheat Engine allows for the manipulation of client-side data, which, it turns out, includes movement to a degree (hence it's been used for speed-hacking). (I'd thought it was just for the manipulation of numerical data, but it turns out that's just the tip of the iceberg. Anything in your active memory can be altered, supposedly, by this thing.) I'm positive it's used for even more things than movement but I'm afraid I don't know the details. The potential, however, is tremendous and it's depressing to know this thing has been around. It doesn't seem to be new either.
Other MMOs are nearly-impervious to Cheat Engine. UO isn't.
So based on what I have read, people were banned for using Cheat Engine and for "excessive" use of Easy UO.
Given that many of the bannings occurred during a Harrower fight? Well, that can to my mind ONLY be an intended message sent by EA. An intent to make PvP combat "cleaner." And their saying "we are, literally, watching." In terms of the actualy cheat-bannings themselves, it sounds like it was a beautifully planned and executed operation.
EA muddied the waters, though, by sending out the same form letter to the banned that it sent out for unattended macroing bannings! Thus creating the perception that "UO is banning for unattended macroing." While unattended macroing using Easy UO may be one of the things these people have done, I'm betting it wasn't the only one.
This was very stupid on EA's part and while they deserve praise for the bannings, they deserve to be smacked hard for sending out the same stupid form letter that they send out for less serious offenses.
As to the merits of the bannings themselves: I have yet to see a person who was banned explicitly deny guilt. Maybe I'm just missing it. In fact I've yet to see anyone who was banned during that fight come out and say "I wasn't doing anything wrong during that actual fight." Again, maybe I'm missing it. And I don't want to accuse anyone, I am just reporting on what I have read.
But on a PvP-oriented message board I looked at, while there were some complaints about the lack of an explicit warning, I didn't see anyone saying "I was banned unjustly." They have mostly just objected to the procedure (inaccurate and impersonal form letter, lack of explicit warning, etc.).
One final point. I may address this more fully in another post, but I probably won't. Cheating wasn't the only explanation for performance differences in Felucca. So, even if they cleaned up cheating entirely, don't be surprised if there are no major balance of power shifts in Fel. We'll see.