[Dshield] Lavasoft (Ad-Aware) dumps COAST

Kenneth Coney superc at visuallink.com
Wed Dec 17 14:31:03 GMT 2003

Lavasoft (they make ad-aware) has announced their withdrawal from COAST.  A 
copy of their email is below.  No doubt this will cause some upheaval in 
the spyware industry.  Has anyone heard from the other side?

  Worst Practices – Why we have decided to leave COAST

Michael A. Wood - VP Sales/Lavasoft COAST Representative

Nicolas Stark Computing AB (Lavasoft) announces that we will no longer 
tolerate, support, or participate in the COAST (Consortium of Anti-Spyware 
Technology Vendors) organization. The current leadership’s overt agenda to 
concentrate on revenue generation flies in the face of the spirit of the 
original mission Lavasoft set forth when we founded COAST. Not only do 
their current efforts shed a bad light on COAST, but also reflect badly on 
the entire anti-trackware industry.

To understand our decision to leave the organization we founded, you will 
need to understand what COAST was intended to be and why we started it in 
the first place.

Over the last two years we have become increasingly concerned about the 
obvious problems with overall standards and the unethical behavior of many 
new entrants to the anti-trackware industry. Nicolas Stark began the 
Ad-aware project in direct response to the security industry’s 
inability/refusal to address on-line Privacy and aggressive advertising 
issues. The goal then as it is now is to provide a means to inform the user 
of what has been installed on their systems, to enable them to remove said 
content at their choice, and to bring pressure on the advertising/software 
industry to change the way they do business.

It was expected and inevitable that the popularity and success of Ad-aware 
would cause others to see an opportunity and join the industry. This is 
just simple economics and is the way all industries begin and later, grow. 
What we have found both extremely disturbing and to be a great 
disappointment is that most of those who chose to enter the anti-trackware 
industry have not had the fortitude or desire to adhere to the standards we 
have set from the beginning. They see potential sales and revenue as the 
goal of their existence rather than embracing the causes of consumer 
reporting, ethical advertising, and social change.

In June of 2003, we began what has become known as COAST (The Consortium of 
Anti-Spyware Technology Vendors). Our goal was to bring together a group of 
industry leaders to formulate detection/definition standards, a code of 
ethical conduct, consumer education, and an easily accessible place where 
everyone could come to find information about companies and applications 
that adhere to the highest standards of public service.

Implicit in our original mandate was that COAST would also provide software 
developers with a centralized resource for contacting anti-trackware 
vendors directly to discover exactly why their applications were detected 
and what they would be required to change in order to be removed from each 
vendor’s database. We held and still hold that this process is part of each 
vendor member’s basic responsibilities as an anti-trackware developer.

These ideals have become corrupt and distorted by the organization we first 
founded with the highest expectations and not because we became a party to 
them, but because we did not choose our partners wisely. What started as an 
idea with only the noblest of intentions has degenerated into a 
commercialistic quagmire where sources of funding have become a priority 
and the ideals Lavasoft represents an impediment to their enrichment at the 
expense of both new entrants to the industry and the companies represented 
in our collective databases.

How is charging an emerging anti-trackware developer $2,500.00/year or a 
large software development company up to $5,000.00/year just to join COAST 
equitable or even fair. The current Consortium plan is to have software 
developers (makers of applications the industry has added to their 
collective databases) apply and pay to join, then to charge them a 
certification fee to review their separate applications. This we vehemently 
argued and voted against to no avail. The only possible benefit of this 
system is that the COAST organization is enriched rather than to do what it 
was meant to do. We hold that COAST does not need to charge exorbitant 
rates for membership to effectively perform its mandate nor will we stand 
by and accept what they are trying to do without doing what we do best; 
fighting to protect the public from unethical behavior whether it be in the 
applications we detect or in those we associate with.

Not only do the other vendor members of COAST focus their collective 
attention on revenue streams, some also engage in some of the worst 
practices that Lavasoft was first conceived to fight against. We have 
attempted to force them to realize the error of their ways and to get COAST 
back on the right track, but it has become obvious that they neither value 
our counsel nor do they see it as relevant to their current goals.

We will not be associated with companies that see the reporting of 
unsolicited commercial e-mail, illegal use of registered trademarks in 
advertising, and theft of intellectual property as inconveniences rather 
than actionable offenses. They have chosen to focus on commercial advantage 
(though COAST is a registered Non-Profit) rather than to understand the 
larger implications of what they are doing or to act decisively and 
collectively to present a unified front to the advertising industry. They 
either will not or are not competent enough to investigate fully those they 
would ask to become members or take the time to realize that unethical 
behavior of any member reflects directly on all members and makes the 
effort useless at the very least.

In light of the failure of COAST to place the end user in the forefront of 
their thinking and because they have decided to concentrate on revenue 
streams and process, we are announcing our rejection of their goals as 
detrimental to the causes of on-line Privacy and advertising ethics. We 
will not allow our message and mission to become derailed by anyone. Be 
they our industry competitors or advertising giants makes no difference. 
Too often we are told that there is no right or wrong, only shades of gray. 
This article is meant to put the industry on notice that Lavasoft will not 
be intimidated, coerced, or persuaded that we need to go along to get 
along. There is a right way to do things and compromise is not an 
acceptable method. You either do what you say you will do, do it well, or 
you stop doing it.

More information about the list mailing list