Yahoo spokeswoman Stephanie Ichinose said the toolbar beta integrates PestPatrols software but did not know whether PestPatrols own application also requires users to specifically select adware for detection. "What this is all about is providing the users with visibility into their computer and to help them manage it as they see appropriate," she said.She declined to comment on whether Yahoo would consider terminating the Claria agreement. To be sure, the definitions of spyware and adware are cloudy. Adware programs often are included as part of a software bundle or through drive-by downloads, where an ActiveX control pops up when a user visits a site and asks whether to accept a download, Methvin said. To read Larry Seltzers column on attempting to define spyware, click here. Adware companies such as Claria say they receive user permission to download their software, but critics say the companies often use confusing methods that leave users unaware of what they are downloading. On its Web site, PestPatrol does categorize software from Claria as adware. But it also listed GAIN, as of Tuesday, as one of the most commonly eliminated spyware pests. PestPatrol officials could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday. Methvin and Ben Edelman, a Harvard University student and vocal spyware critic, both said PestPatrol scans for spyware as well as adware by default. In a test of PestPatrols free, online scanning tool, eWEEK.com confirmed that it does detect the presence of Clarias GAIN software automatically. To Edelman, Yahoos decision not to include adware by default in its Anti-Spy beta is a mistake. Edelman, who has served as an expert witness in lawsuits against Claria, considers software from Claria and New York-based WhenU.com to be spyware because of their distribution methods and practices. Last month, Edelman raised concerns about WhenU.coms use of a method called cloaking to serve search engines different content than site visitors to gain a higher position for its Web sites. That led to Google Inc. and Yahoo removing WhenU.com sites from search results, according to published reports. As of Tuesday, Google still was not returning results for WhenU.com, but Yahoo was returning WhenU.coms home page as the top result for the query "WhenU." Yahoo likely has found itself in a contradictory position of both being a Web publisher whose own ads could be cannibalized from adware, while also benefiting from its distribution of Overture paid listings through Claria, Edelman said. "They do need to pick a side," Edelman said of Yahoo. "Its not clear if Yahoo is on the side of the user or the advertisers." Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center at http://security.eweek.com for the latest security news, reviews and analysis.
As far as Overtures relationship with Claria, she said Overture screens its distribution partners to make sure they gain user permission before downloading software.