AOL Software Labeled As ‘Badware’

A non-profit watchdog group 'Stop Badware Coalition' has labeled AOL's new free service software as 'badware'.

StopBadware.org is a consumer protection group that is supported by Google, Sun Microsystems and others, has declared AOL's client software as 'badware', on Monday. It warned users not to install the program on their systems because it "adds software without disclosure" and "interferes with computer use".

The term 'badware' is a technical coinage that describes many downloadable applications trying to install unnecessary components on a PC without clearly disclosing what they are and what they will perform.

AOL 9.0 is a free version that has been criticized because it "interferes with computer use" because of the manner in which it meddles with the 'Internet Explorer browser' and the 'Windows taskbar'. The software is also discerned for associating with "deceptive installation" and called defective because some of its components fail to uninstall. Further the software makes addition of buttons automatically to the users' 'Internet Explorer default toolbars' as well as to their "favorites" lists without trying to get their consent.

The 'badware' labeling has another point of concern for AOL, which has intermingled with a controversy over the illegal release of more than 650,000 AOL users' Web-search cases. Although the ID numbers of the users have been kept anonymous, yet some of their privacy has been compromised.*

As said by John Palfrey, co-director of StopBadware.org AOL is not necessarily of the same kind as the malicious badware providers identified before this but the free version of AOL 9.0 has been tested to not live up to the company's long time standard.

According to Palfrey, AOL has not been blamed for installing malicious software rather StopBadware.org approved AOL's leadership is engaged in fighting badware, that includes hacker programs, viruses, spyware as well as adware.

AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein said that the company would improve the disclosures it provides with the software. In fact the improvements have already been incorporated to a new version of the software due for release soon.

The Stop Badware Coalition has still alerted its online users to avoid installing the AOL version of software unless they are satisfied with the level of risk detected.

Related article: AOL Yet to Fix Original Critical Flaw Discovered in September 2007

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