The Anti-Spyware Coalition published new guidelines on Thursday designed to help consumers assess whether or not a software product is considered spyware. The group also revised an earlier draft of definitions that differentiate between acceptable and invasive advertising.
With 43 percent of Internet users reporting they have been infected with spyware, tools to detect and remove the malicious applications have become a prerequisite for PC users. But much confusion still exists on what constitutes spyware and adware, which has led to improper classification and even lawsuits.
The Anti-Spyware Coalition, headed by the Center for Democracy & Technology with support from industry giants AOL, Earthlink, Microsoft, and Yahoo is attempting to set the record straight with a series of guidelines. Along with educating consumers, anti-spyware software vendors could avoid legal attacks from ad companies who claim their software is unfairly targeted.
In the new "Risk Model" guidelines, the coalition ranks various practices common in spyware and adware with risk levels. Installing a program without a users permission, intercepting instant messaging and e-mail, and displaying ads while hiding the source program are all considered "high risk."