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Ask Jeeves Denies Adware Installing Charge & Other Accusations

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Earlier I posted about various accusations made against software distributed by Ask Jeeves -- that it assisted other programs to install themselves unbeknownst to users, that it was tagged as spyware by Microsoft's anti-spyware tool and that it generated log referral spam. Ask Jeeves has responded to deny the accusations. John Park, senior vice president for desktop products at Ask Jeeves, emailed the following:

Ask Jeeves' toolbar products, including My Search and Fun Web Products, are not spyware or adware. Our products do not collect personal information, do not monitor the sites a user visits, do not monitor a user?s behavior on the Internet, do not log or track keystrokes and do not serve or facilitate contextual or pop-up ads. We also do not generate log referral spam. Anti-spyware/anti-adware programs do not flag us, including those from Microsoft, AOL, Norton, McAfee, Symantec and a long list of others.

Since Ask Jeeves acquired ISH we have been working diligently to follow the developing industry best practices with respect to spyware, adware and consumer disclosure. We don't allow our programs to be installed without permission or consent. We take clarity very seriously and even include a visual image of what the Fun Web Product application looks like on the install page (viewed prior to install) to make it perfectly clear what a user will see when they download our product. From what we have seen, this takes disclosure a step beyond the practices implemented by others in the industry.

The area of downloadable applications is rapidly growing and industry best practices will continue to be refined. Consumer and industry feedback continues to be critical as we work to weed out the bad apples ? it?s bad for the consumer and ultimately for business. In [Ben Edelman's] video he highlights an advertising affiliate that installed our toolbar through an unacceptable practice known in the industry as drive-by downloads.

We don?t endorse that activity and explicitly call this out as off-limits in our contracts. We terminated the relationship when it came to our attention. We want consumers to download our toolbars for the great functionality we offer and the volume of decidedly positive feedback combined with the millions of active users who have sent over 1 billion smileys to date seems to indicate people are doing just that.

We will continue to evolve our products in line with industry standards and appreciate the user and industry feedback that helps make our products better.

In my earlier post, I'd mentioned personally seeing one of Ask Jeeves' products flagged as spyware by Microsoft's detection tool. Had things changed since the end of February. Yes, Park responded.

You will see with the latest definition files that we are not flagged by Microsoft or any of the other products that are mentioned below. I personally checked the latest install from Microsoft this evening.


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