[Dshield] Lavasoft (Ad-Aware) dumps COAST
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.
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