By Kenneth Li and Jeremy Pelofsky
Top U.S. technology companies plan to unveil on Wednesday new
guidelines aimed at combating unwanted software that tracks the
behavior of Web users and generates pop-up ads, sources familiar with
the matter said on Tuesday.
The parties include Time Warner Inc.'s online division AOL, Verizon
Communications, the Center for Democracy and Technology, CNET Networks
Inc., CA , Yahoo Inc. and nonprofit online privacy organization
TRUSTe, the sources said.
TRUSTe will administer a best-practices "standard of good behavior for
adware companies and companies more broadly that distribute
downloadable software," said one source, who declined to be
"It's designed to get the worst of the bad actors out," explained the
source, regarding the guideline's intent.
The program, which will be unveiled at a news conference in
Washington, is expected to be called the "Trusted Download Program,"
another source said.
Since the companies would not do business with those adware firms that
do not have TRUSTe certification, it gives those firms an incentive to
participate, a third source said, declining identification.
Additionally, the compliance with the guidelines would give
advertisers better information about the practices by adware
companies, the source said.
Representatives of CA, CNET and TRUSTe were not immediately available
for comment. AOL and Yahoo declined comment. A Verizon spokesman
confirmed it would participate in the news conference with TRUSTe but
declined to provide details.
The drafting of the guidelines comes on the heels of a public
relations disaster for music company Sony BMG, which faces a
U.S. lawsuit charging it with not informing customers before
distributing CD copy protection software that installs and hides
itself in computers that track a user's habits.
Media companies, seeking to court a new audience online and on mobile
devices, have experimented with selling programming online and
on-demand but are wary their products will be stolen before proper
digital rights management protections are established.
Asked if some of Sony's CDs containing the aggressive copy protection
software would have passed muster under these new guidelines, one
source said, "There's no way they'd pass it."
The Senate Commerce Committee plans to consider legislation on
Thursday aimed at regulating the unauthorized installation of computer
software and require better disclosure of software features that may
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Shouldn't they be required to wait until
the new Spam and Crime Discussion and Exploration of the Issues forum
has had a chance to discuss it and explore it? PAT]