The Anti-Spyware Coalition (ASC) has unveiled its final, consensus definition of spyware, which was developed by coalition members including major anti-spyware companies, software developers and public interest groups.

ASC said that the definitions were further shaped by almost 400 comments submitted by organizations and individuals to its website. The final document will serve as the foundation for all of the coalition's future anti-spyware efforts.

Using this definition as a foundation ASC has published a "risk modeling" document that outlines the objective criteria anti-spyware vendors use to determine whether to identify a piece of software as "spyware." The document, which goes into considerable technical detail about the specific behaviors that make certain technologies risky, is designed to help users better understand how the products that protect their computers work. It also aims to offer anti-spyware companies guidelines for their own proprietary rating processes.

According to ASC, just as its spyware definition laid the groundwork for its risk-modeling document, the risk-modeling document sets the stage for the eventual development of industry-wide "best practices." As was the case with the definitions document, the risk modeling language will be open for public comment until November 27, 2005 on the ASC website.

Ari Schwartz, associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, which has led the work of ASC, said: "The spyware definitions give those of us united in the battle against spyware a common language, while the risk-modeling document clearly lays out the behaviors that make certain software dangerous. These developments move us closer to a world in which consumers have the upper hand over those who create malicious, unwanted technology."

ASC also announced its first ever public meeting, scheduled to take place February 9, 2006 at the Hyatt Capitol Hill in Washington DC. The meeting offers members of the public as well as organizations and industries that do not work directly with the ASC an opportunity to learn about the latest anti-spyware efforts, share their spyware-related concerns and participate in efforts to combat the problem.

www.antispywarecoalition.org