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Friday, January 26, 2007

Anti-Spyware Coalition Unveils Two Major Documents

The Anti-Spyware Coalition (ASC) unveiled a comprehensive set of "best practices" for identifying potentially unwanted technology. Based on more than a year of consultations and building on all of the coalition's previous work, the best practices document provides the clearest description yet of how anti-spyware companies determine whether software may be "unwanted," the coalition says.

Issuing best practices has been a top priority of the ASC since it was founded in 2005 with the mission of educating users, establishing a community for anti-spyware advocates and collaborating to improve the usefulness of anti-spyware technologies. In addition to the best practices, the ASC also today released its conflict identification and resolution process, which establishes a routine methodology for resolving software conflict between anti-spyware tools.

Both spyware documents are available online. You may also comment on the documents at the ASC site.

"This is a watershed moment for the Anti-Spyware Coalition and for the global anti-spyware community. These best practices will be a vital tool -- not only for anti-spyware vendors to use in honing the detection process -- but also to help software developers avoid publishing products likely to be unwanted by consumers," says Ari Schwartz, deputy director of the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) and coordinator of the ASC. "The underlying goal of everyone involved in the Anti-Spyware Coalition is to make the Internet experience safer, more productive and more enjoyable. This document goes a long way toward supporting that goal."

"Best Practices: Factors for Use in the Evaluation of Potentially Unwanted Technologies" details the process by which anti-spyware companies review software applications identifying behaviors which raise red flags as well as behaviors that help to mitigate concerns by providing real value to users. It relies heavily on the ASC's own spyware "definitions" document and its risk-model description, which helped to establish a common understanding of spyware and how it is classified, the spyware coalition says.

The "Conflict Identification and Resolution Process" highlights possible ways in which anti-spyware tools may conflict with one another and offers clear steps to resolve those conflicts. In addition to allowing for better, more structured interactions between developers, the resolution process will also provide a level of transparency to consumers who may be affected by such conflicts, the spyware organization says.

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