StopBadware.org will feature reports on software applications the group tests and determines fall into the categories of deceptive adware, spyware, or other malware. While some adware providers in particular might take exception to being labeled as "badware," Palfrey insists that his group is "not out to hurt the reputations of companies trying to do the right thing. If we make mistakes, we'll fix them as soon as we figure that out."
Of course, StopBadware.org isn't the only group working to eradicate impediments to the Internet's growth. The Anti-Spyware Coalition, which features AOL, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Yahoo, is also working on ways to tackle spyware and other potentially unwanted technologies. The Center for Democracy and Technology convened the coalition, and the group has produced a document addressing best practices, risk modeling, and objective criteria for flagging the unwanted software.
StopBadware.org's formation comes amidst efforts, from the Center for Democracy and Technology and others, to shut down adware providers. CDT last week filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission against 180solutions and its partner CJB.net, saying the companies use Internet Explorer vulnerabilities to install software and hide its disclosure policies in long legal notices.
Ultimately the new group's success will be determined by how much awareness of badware they can promote and how much badware providers are willing to clean up their act, Palfrey says, adding, If we help to rebuild consumer trust in the computing environment, that'll be success, too."
A sound notion, but StopBadware.org's work is most likely to produce results if combined with a more aggressive approach, as when a U.S. federal court in November shut down prominent adware and spyware suppliers Enternet Media, Conspy & Co. Inc., and Networld One.