The StopBadware.org group has published its first list of programs it believes users should avoid installing, as part of its campaign against spyware and questionable adware.
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The StopBadware.org campaign has industry support and is backed by Harvard University and Oxford University.
The first four “badware” programs named by the group are the Kazaa peer-to-peer file-sharing program from Sharman Networks, the MediaPipe download manager from Net Publican, the SpyAxe software-removal tool, and Freeze.com’s Waterfalls 3 screen-saver.
StopBadware.org says spyware and adware that records users’ internet activity and which takes up their computer resources without adequate prior warnings is a barrier to wider internet take-up.
Possible programs that should be labelled as “badware” were nominated by the public.
Researchers in the two universities’ computer labs then examined these programs and legal teams evaluated each software package’s end-user licensing agreement (EULA) which users are asked to agree on before downloading.
Categories of behaviour deemed to be unwanted in downloaded software by StopBadware.org include, deceptive installations, unclear identification, modifying other software, causing harm to other computers, transmitting user data, interfering with computer use, and being difficult to uninstall.
The first four programs named by StopBadware.org were all found to have been guilty of some of these faults.
StopBadware.org said all four companies behind these programs had been contacted by the organisation, but all had so far failed to respond to the criticism.