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Anti-spyware body defines the enemy

Major suppliers and consumer bodies have backed the recently launched Anti-Spyware Coalition (ASC), which has just published its basic definition of spyware.

Major suppliers and consumer bodies have backed the recently launched Anti-Spyware Coalition (ASC), which has just published its basic definition of spyware. 

The ASC wants the industry and users to define more closely what spyware is and help users make educated judgements as to what should be allowed to reside on their PCs.

“One of the biggest challenges we’ve had with spyware has been agreeing on what it is,” said Ari Schwartz, associate director of the US Centre for Democracy and Technology, which has led ASC’s work.

He said, “The anti-spyware community needs a way to quickly and decisively categorise the new programs spawning at exponential rates across the internet. The definitions will serve as a foundation for all future efforts to help users make more informed decisions about which programs to keep and which to delete.”

The ASC describes “spyware and other potentially unwanted technologies” as those that “impair users’ control over material changes that affect their user experience, privacy or system security; use of their system resources, including what programs are installed on their computers; or collection, use and distribution of their personal or otherwise sensitive information”.

The ASC has also outlined common procedures for dispute resolution for marketers and suppliers who believe their software has been unfairly flagged or stopped by an anti-spyware program.

Current ASC members include AOL, Computer Associates, HP, Lavasoft, McAfee, Microsoft, Symantec, Trend Micro, Yahoo and the Business Software Alliance. A number of US-based consumer bodies have also backed ASC.

ASC’s spyware definition is now out for consultation and internet users can contribute to the debate at: 

http://www.antispywarecoalition.org

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