Legal Battles Could Trim Down Bloatware
NEWS ANALYSIS: Antivirus firms won the right to label unwanted adware installed with legitimate programs 'potentially unwanted,' while China takes Samsung to task for bloatware.When antivirus firm Avira began warning its users that software installed from download site Freemium.com came bundled with "potentially unwanted applications," the site demanded that the security firm stop blocking its downloads. Yet Freemium.com's practice of bundling other programs violated Avira's code of conduct for applications, so the security company continued to warn its customers and continued blocking the site's downloads. Companies that surreptitiously install applications for money are pushing the boundaries of ethics and cause consumers to mistrust software firms, Travis Witteveen, CEO of Avira GmbH, told eWEEK. "They broke all reasonable levels of what can be considered acceptable behavior," Witteveen said. "They are making a ton of money, but they are doing it in a way that the entire software industry is suffering." While Freemium.com responded by filing an injunction, a German court sided with the antivirus firm in late June, allowing it to continue to classify the slyly downloaded programs as potentially unwanted, according to Avira.
The judgment is one of the latest signs that consumers and the legal system are pushing back against increasing efforts by publishers, manufacturers and software developers to get paid for loading up users' systems with questionable software, add-ons and toolbars, often referred to by frustrated consumers as "crapware" or "bloatware." Companies that attempt to make money by surreptitiously installing software are facing increasing consumer wrath.