The Anti-Spyware Coalition (ASC) has made a request for comments on a document the consortium plans to use to define spyware and other forms of intrusive software.
The coalition is formed of 22 companies and organizations, including Microsoft, McAfee, Trend Micro, and AOL as well as several public interest groups. The coalition's goal is to define and identify spyware as well as other types of unwanted software in order to help businesses and consumers eliminate it more effectively, and provide a means by which to resolve disputes over questionable software.
The "Spyware Definitions and Supporting Documents" paper (a 13 page PDF), has been made available for download so interested parties can comment on its definitions, which the group thinks will be key to its efforts. The document provides definitions of concepts such as zombies, droneware, botnets and rootkits, as well as an outline of the appropriate procedure for vendors to follow when they believe their products have been unfairly identified as spyware.
"The definitions alone represent a huge leap in how we communicate with our customers and each other about the spyware problem," said Ari Schwartz, Associate Director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, which has led the work of the group.
Coming up with common definitions that share trust across the computing industry has been a contentious issue. In February, the Consortium of Anti-Spyware Technology lost several key participants, including Computer Associates when it admitted a former spyware vendor into its ranks. By April, the group ceased operations over concerns that it could no longer be trusted to provide a neutral assessment of what constitutes spyware.
The comment period on the document will run through August 12, at which point the ASC will produce a final draft, scheduled for release in fall of this year.