US Tech Firms to Set Adware Guidelines

By Kenneth Li and Jeremy Pelofsky

Top U.S. technology companies plan to unveil on Wednesday new guidelines aimed at combating unwanted software that tracks the behavior of Web users and generates pop-up ads, sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The parties include Time Warner Inc.'s online division AOL, Verizon Communications, the Center for Democracy and Technology, CNET Networks Inc., CA , Yahoo Inc. and nonprofit online privacy organization TRUSTe, the sources said.

TRUSTe will administer a best-practices "standard of good behavior for adware companies and companies more broadly that distribute downloadable software," said one source, who declined to be identified.

"It's designed to get the worst of the bad actors out," explained the source, regarding the guideline's intent.

The program, which will be unveiled at a news conference in Washington, is expected to be called the "Trusted Download Program," another source said.

Since the companies would not do business with those adware firms that do not have TRUSTe certification, it gives those firms an incentive to participate, a third source said, declining identification.

Additionally, the compliance with the guidelines would give advertisers better information about the practices by adware companies, the source said.

Representatives of CA, CNET and TRUSTe were not immediately available for comment. AOL and Yahoo declined comment. A Verizon spokesman confirmed it would participate in the news conference with TRUSTe but declined to provide details.

The drafting of the guidelines comes on the heels of a public relations disaster for music company Sony BMG, which faces a U.S. lawsuit charging it with not informing customers before distributing CD copy protection software that installs and hides itself in computers that track a user's habits.

Media companies, seeking to court a new audience online and on mobile devices, have experimented with selling programming online and on-demand but are wary their products will be stolen before proper digital rights management protections are established.

Asked if some of Sony's CDs containing the aggressive copy protection software would have passed muster under these new guidelines, one source said, "There's no way they'd pass it."

The Senate Commerce Committee plans to consider legislation on Thursday aimed at regulating the unauthorized installation of computer software and require better disclosure of software features that may threaten privacy.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

NOTE: For more telecom/internet/networking/computer news from the daily media, check out our feature 'Telecom Digest Extra' each day at

formatting link
. Hundreds of new articles daily.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Shouldn't they be required to wait until the new Spam and Crime Discussion and Exploration of the Issues forum has had a chance to discuss it and explore it? PAT]
Reply to
Kenneth Li & Jeremy Pelofsky
Loading thread data ... Forums website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.