16 December, 2006

StopBadware.org

I ran across a site, StopBadware.org, led by Harvard Law School and Oxford University, with sponsorship from Google, Sun, and Lenovo, that is trying "to become a focal point for developing collaborative, community-minded approaches to stopping badware."

StopBadware.org "...shares information with the public in the form of reports, including in-depth and short form reports. The in-depth reports highlight particularly prominent or particularly bad applications, and shorter quick reports describe websites that host or distribute badware." StopBadware.org has a complete set of guidelines on what constitutes badware. Software and/or websites can be categorized as either badware or caution. From the guidelines, an application is badware in one of two cases:
  1. If the application acts deceptively or irreversibly.
  2. If the application engages in potentially objectionable behavior without:
    • First, prominently disclosing to the user that it will engage in such behavior, in clear and non-technical language, and
    • Then, obtaining the user's affirmative consent to that aspect of the application.
Interestingly enough, AOL version 9 is currently working to improve their product to keep themselves off of the badware list. In examining StopBadware.org's quick reports, most of the websites are either pornographic or free serial number related.

Check the badware site, and see if you currently have any badware. Check it again before downloading free applications and tools. And of course, stay away from questionable websites.

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