Internet powers unite to fight spyware

Five of the online world's best known companies have thrown their support behind a new program that will certify download safety.

America Online, Computer Associates, CNET, Verizon and Yahoo are all backing the "Trusted Download Program," which will feature a list of applications deemed acceptable by TRUSTe. The program will be available in beta form early next year, TRUSTe said Wednesday in a statement.

"With customers downloading more and more software, it's vital to give people real control over what they will allow on their computers," said Fran Maier, TRUSTe executive director and president. "Through our Trusted Download Program, we will provide a clear, actionable set of standards and an effective method of monitoring and enforcing those standards."

TRUSTe said Wednesday it will publish a "whitelist" of certified, non-malicious downloads used by the companies backing the program. To gain membership on the list, adware authors must disclose the types of advertising they display, the information they track and the personal settings they change. Users must also approve the applications, which must provide an uninstall option to gain access to the whitelist.

Jules Polonetsky, vice president of integrity assurance for AOL, said in a statement that the new program should make a confusing online world easier to understand for home PC users.

"This program will be a useful, additional level of review to assist with our compliance efforts to ensure internet users aren't misled into downloading programs that interfere with their online experience," he said.

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