The Anti-Spyware Initiative: Good Practices and Bad Practices

MediaPost reports that three leading behavioral targeting companies — Dynamic Logic, Revenue Science, and Tacoda — have joined in an alliance to develop initiatives designed to educate legislators and consumers alike on the different good and bad practices deployed by legitimate online marketers, differentiating them from spyware and adware developers.

The following is a summary of The Anti-Spyware Initiative document:


Publisher acceptance:
Publishers have the right to protect their users experience and not have their sites manipulated or over-taken by content that they do not approve of conceptually.

Good user experience through cookies:
Cookies can enhance the user experience in ways including: through controls for log-in, storing personal preferences, shopping cart functionality, frequency controls on advertising, and ad relevancy. Accompanying privacy policies must be easy to find and understand, for third party cookies this means making an accurate P3P statement.

Ad / Site tracking:
Data to determine who was exposed to specific web pages, ads, emails, and frequency of exposure enables publishers and advertisers to know how their audience is experiencing the content and allows publishers to enhance the user-experience, by enabling targeting, relevancy, ad frequency controls, and measurement.

Respectful data collection:
A site’s initial collection of personal information, including email or name, should be done only with user consent and a clear opt-in/out policy.


Blind downloads:
Cloaking software in other downloads violates consumer trust and makes it difficult for consumers to understand the purpose and impact of those decisions.

Difficult to uninstall:
Consumers should have robust choice in managing the software installed on their computers and uninstall methods should not be obscured or disabled. Software that attempts to evade consumer choice is unacceptable.

Browser manipulation:
Altering the customary operations and manipulating the default settings of a browser so the user cannot regain control is a violation of consumer trust.

Keystroke tracking:
The practice of surreptitiously monitoring consumer’s keystrokes for the purposes of obtaining passwords or identification is an egregious violation of consumer trust.

Unclear origin of ads:
Designing delivery systems to hide or obscure the source of an ad, web page, or email undermines consumer trust because it makes it difficult to identify the perpetrator of abusive practices.
Source: The Anti-Spyware Initiative.