Starting next year, adware and software providers that want to continue placing ads on such prominent Web sites as AOL and Yahoo will have to obtain the consent of users before their applications are downloaded.
Under the Trusted Download Program, TRUSTe will create a list of certified downloadable applications. The program is sponsored by TRUSTe, America Online Inc., Yahoo Inc., Computer Associates International Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and CNET Networks Inc. The sponsors will not distribute applications that arent on the list, and they will not accept advertising from the adware providers that dont comply with the program.
The initiative aims to cut down on the volume of adware and spyware that users unwittingly burden their computers with when downloading games, file-sharing programs and other applications.
"Through our Trusted Download Program we will provide a clear, actionable set of standards and an effective method of monitoring and enforcing those standards," said Fran Maier, executive director and president of TRUSTe, in Washington. "This extends TRUSTes mission to build trust between individuals and organizations online."
For inclusion on the certified programs whitelist, adware providers must prominently disclose the type of ads that will be displayed, the personal information that will be tracked and the user settings that may be altered by the download. They must also provide a way for users to easily uninstall the adware.
"For the first time, companies, like Yahoo, will have a powerful tool to identify software applications that respect consumers and a means to monitor and enforce compliance over time," said Doug Leeds, vice president for product justice at Yahoo, in Sunnyvale, Calif. "This program takes the strong desire of leading Internet companies to protect their customers and transforms it into a market incentive for software developers to build better products."
Tori Case, director of eTrust security management at CA, of Islandia, N.Y., said the new program will "help create a self-regulating industry ecosystem where behavior that protects the productivity, privacy and security of users is rewarded and behavior that compromises it is not."