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Google Releases Spyware Prevention Guidelines

Chris Richardson
Staff Writer
Published: 2004-05-19

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Acknowledging the soon-to-be-released Google Deskbar, Google has released a set of guidelines to assist in the prevention of spyware. The targets for this page are the makers of Internet software and advertisers.

Google's proposal calls for software makers to consider these guidelines when creating their applications. The basic definition of spyware is any software that performs functions on your computer without your knowledge or approval.

Some of these functions are: tracking your internet habits in order to target advertising to you, usually in the shape of spam; having software that comes bundled in with other applications install itself without your approval; hijacking of users' internet browser and changing their homepage to the spyware's manufacturer or proprietor.

There are many other actions that can be defined as spyware, but these are the most obvious. Google's guideline features 6 principles that software designers and advertisers should adhere to. The following are excerpts from Google's guideline:

INSTALLATION
We believe software should not trick you into installing it.

UPFRONT DISCLOSURE
When an application is installed or enabled, it should inform you of its principal and significant functions.

SIMPLE REMOVAL
It should be easy for you to figure out how to disable or delete an application.

CLEAR BEHAVIOR
Applications that affect or change your user experience should make clear they are the reason for those changes.

SNOOPING
If an application collects or transmits your personal information such as your address, you should know.

KEEPING GOOD COMPANY
Application providers should not allow their products to be bundled with applications that do not meet these guidelines.

These principles serve as an effective standard when designing applications. Although, it can be reasoned that most spyware creators are well aware of their software's actions. If that is the case, would they even pay attention to the ideas that Google posted?

Of course, if you are making spyware, Google won't let you advertise with them anyway. An interesting point of view was issued by Andy Beal. Andy is of the opinion that Google may be practicing a little CYA:

"Isn't it coincidental that they issue these guidelines when they are rumored to be just days from launching a new desktop search solution? Do you think they have perhaps learned a lot from the whole Gmail privacy fiasco and are making sure the same doesn't happen when they launch desktop search?"

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About the Author:
Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.

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