Thursday, May 20, 2004

Google's Green Cross Code

The Google team are worried by the increasing trend in spyware and other dodgy software. They've published some principles that they believe the software industry should stand by. Difficult to argue with any of them I think, unless (of course) you are a publisher of said dodgy software when doubtless you will be shrieking "restraint of trade", e.g.
When an application is installed or enabled, it should inform you of its principal and significant functions. And if the application makes money by showing you advertising, it should clearly and conspicuously explain this. Applications that affect or change your user experience should make clear they are the reason for those changes. For example, if an application opens a window, that window should identify the application responsible for it. It should be easy for you to figure out how to disable or delete an application.
I'm all for this (and more in fact). But the rogue elements will continue to flout these and any other guidelines as long as the consequence of flouting leaves them unexposed. I use Zonealarm to make sure that anything that is connecting to the 'net is doing so only when I say it can - and you'd be amazed what does try and reach out. Zonealarm by itself isn't enough, but the google folks helpfully list some other apps that are worth trying, see the end of their guiding principles.

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