November 15, 2005 10:15 PM PST

Group backs program to certify downloads

WASHINGTON--A group of Internet companies plans to announce on Wednesday a new program to certify downloads so consumers can get friendly and noninvasive software.

The Trusted Download Program is backed by America Online, Yahoo, CNET Networks, Verizon and Computer Associates. The program is set to begin early next year in a trial version, when the Internet partners will get access to a list of applications certified by online privacy watchdog group Truste, according to a statement from the companies. (CNET Networks is the parent company of CNET

"With consumers downloading more and more software, it's vital to give people real control over what they will allow on their computers," Fran Maier, executive director of Truste, said in the statement. The official announcement of the initiative is scheduled for Wednesday morning at an event here.

Spyware and adware have become widely despised for sneaky distribution tactics, unauthorized data gathering, the eating-up of computer processing power and other annoyances. Although adware makers say there are legitimate uses for their programs, an entire anti-spyware market has been spawned to combat the often unwanted software.

The Trusted Download Program won't blacklist adware or spyware. Instead, to be certified, makers of the software have to clearly communicate what their product does. The consumer then has to consent prior to download and again when installing the software.

For example, software that displays advertisements or tracks user behavior must disclose what type of ads will be displayed and what information will be tracked, according to the statement. The disclosure must also include which user settings may be altered, and must obtain consent for the download, the statement said.

Furthermore, easy instructions to uninstall the software must be provided and displayed ads must be labeled with the name of the ad-serving software.

A "whitelist" of approved applications will be provided to the program sponsors, who can use it to make decisions about advertising, partnering or distributing software, according to the statement. Truste already certifies and monitors Web site privacy and e-mail practices.

See more CNET content tagged:
TRUSTe, adware, Time Warner Inc., download, spyware


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... and then there were 71
The problem is that there are already so many programs claiming to certify or qualify downloads against some standard of transparency. Any download site worth its salt has some "buyer-beware" programs; even the Association of Shareware Professionals is launching a program whereby software will be tested against a set of standards of practice, disclosure, transparency, etc.

So a new consumer protection program launches... which one do consumers trust? Surely the one being run by the download site that they already trust enough to be downloading the software from in the first place, rather than the one that the software auther (who could be the worlds biggest spammer) says they should trust.
Posted by Flytrap (82 comments )
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Should also clearly state other things as well.
Other than spyware malware I am sick of crippleware.

I buy software and then I perform a fucntion then a popup say I must buy that extra function for $29.95... GRRRR Yes that right NERO!!! After I spent whatever it cost for teh full retail product.
Then there is Roxio Easy CD Creator. Prompts me to say there is an upgrade. Does not say this upgrade will cost anything so I think its free then after 30 days BLAMO! I can't record anymore!!! Thank god for Zone Alarm I can block Easy CD Creator for sniffing for a internet connection. I really hate software that phones home....... If Windows XP ever prompted me to purchase windows update service I'd format and move to the Linux community
Posted by inachu (963 comments )
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