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#1 winchester73

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 12:14 AM

Hello old friend, hope this finds you well.

Looking at the "label" here: http://billpstudios....-with-your.html

Is the AskToolbar coming?
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#2 LS CalamityJane

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 06:37 PM

This topic was held temporarily offline until the Office in Sweden was open today so that it could be confirmed or not as I had no information on this and the blog post you linked does not give any indication of whether this is rumor or not. So, having confirmed, can now bring this topic back online so our home office can respond.

Michael Helander asked me to post this for you, Winchester

From:
Michael Helander
Vice President Marketing

Hello all –

It seems as though I only jump into the forums these days when there is some hot topic that needs a quick reply before it spirals out of control with rumors and mis-information. I’ll have to change that! I rather love a good discussion.

On the topic of toolbars:

Toolbars have become such a sensitive issue in our business, particularly because several companies have chosen to distribute them without any restrictions, or without challenging the existing system to result in social change. But for us here at Lavasoft, toolbar issues are no worse than most of the other issues that we deal with – so we don’t consider it a forbidden topic at all.

The fact that we have talked with Ask regarding toolbars is nothing that we feel the need to hide. One would be hard-pressed to find a company these days that has not been approached by Ask (or Yahoo, Google, or a plethora of other search engines) to distribute their toolbar. So, even those that are saying “shame on you” to anyone that is distributing the toolbar have most likely been approached and talked to Ask as well.

Why are we different? We are actually engaged in extensive and in-depth discussions with Ask directly. Instead of just saying ‘no’ and then pointing a damning finger at everyone else who chooses to distribute a toolbar, we choose the uncommon path of trying to make a real difference in the industry. We’re involved in an analysis of their toolbar, based on Lavasoft’s detection criteria (which set the standard for this entire industry of anti-spyware detection, I might add), that could actually result in a clean toolbar. We are working with Ask the same way that we would work with any other company that approaches us with an application that could be considered questionable. We analyze the application. We have consistent and ongoing talks with them about what changes are necessary in order to have a clean application. They decide whether they can or cannot make those changes. If they can make the required changes, then we have done our job to create social change in our industry. And I assure you it is no easy task to meet the criteria from our research lab! If they cannot make the required changes, then we still feel very confident that we have given them all of the knowledge necessary to provide an application that Lavasoft believes is acceptable for consumer privacy and security.

Many people say that Ask has a bad reputation. So what? Does that mean that we should turn a blind eye to our core corporate ethics of creating change in our industry? Yes, we work with those that everyone else likes to call “the bad guys”. We think that is pretty cool. It creates an opportunity to really make a difference.

And another thing about toolbars…the cynics say that it is just about the money…making a quick buck (yes, search engine companies pay their toolbar partners – that’s business folks). But really, think about it. If Lavasoft were just out to make a quick buck, wouldn’t we just develop software and send it out to you, year after year? Instead, we spend exhaustive hours and energy actually trying to get “the bad guys” to create their applications without compromising computer users (yourself included). When you buy Ad-Aware, or even take the freeware version, you are a part of the process of creating real change in this industry. The option? There are plenty of other companies out there that are extremely good at marketing the newest bells and whistles on their products – and are busy pointing fingers at all of the bad things being done by everyone else. That’s not interesting for Lavasoft employees. We’re here for the real change. We’re in it for the long haul.

So to answer your original question, winchester73, “Is the AskToolbar coming?” It’s not out of the question. If we can find a way to create change in the toolbar arena, we will certainly find a way to get it into the hands and onto the computers of consumers who want a clean toolbar. Of course it would be prominently disclosed. Of course it would be opt-in only. Of course we take things like that into consideration.

So, for all the naysayers out there that that say Lavasoft is only about the money…they’re way off base. They just have no idea of how much effort we put in to make real industry change…on their behalf. So for that, we forgive them.

For those of you who are open enough to understand what it takes to fight malware AND create social change at the same time, we thank you, and hope you are in it with us for the long haul.

Cheers –

Michael


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#3 winchester73

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 02:20 PM

Thanks Janie. :lol:

Since I have to respond to Michael via this forum, here's some thoughts ...



I certainly respect Janie as well, and I'm sure she knows that. You are most fortunate to have someone of her ability leading your support forum. :D

However, I'm not sure I should be categorized as one of the "pointing a damning finger at everyone else who chooses to distribute a toolbar" people.

It seems as though I only jump into the forums these days when there is some hot topic that needs a quick reply before it spirals out of control with rumors and mis-information.


I'm not sure what part of my post was full of rumor or mis-information. :D

Toolbars are indeed a "hot" topic in the spyware fighting community, and the companies who add them without the downloader's knowledge or acceptance deservedly get their feet held to the fire ... as do those who bundle them and tick the "accept" box for you as the default option (ie: ZoneAlarm's SpyBlocker, the subject of many many threads on various security forums). ‘Opt In by default’ toolbars are very troubling IMO. The Spy Sweeper installer had the Ask Toolbar and Search Assistant pre-checked as an opt-in last fall, and you know the firestorm that erupted, leading to many sites removing the software from public view or discontinuing updates posts.

So, for all the naysayers out there that that say Lavasoft is only about the money…they’re way off base. They just have no idea of how much effort we put in to make real industry change…on their behalf. So for that, we forgive them.


To quote IAMSKINZ from another time and place:

"I truely believe that all here know that Lavasoft was formed for one reason and one reason only.
It was a mans desire to provide the means for all to use the internet and not be taken over by malicious software, no matter who you are."

http://www.dslreports.com/forum/remark,12685010


Anyone who has been around a while knows that this man IAMSKINZ is referring to is urizen. They also know that as a former "super moderator" of the LS support forum, I had joined his fight, sharing a common vision.

I posted a polite inquiry here on this forum to urizen, a post that was removed without the courtesy of an explanation, at least until now. It's your forum, and it is certainly your right to run it any way that you like.
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#4 winchester73

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 01:04 AM

BTW, in case you missed this: http://epic.org/priv...aser_011908.pdf

A coalition of privacy groups filed a complaint against Ask.com on 19 January 2008 with the United States Federal Trade Commission, alleging that the Ask.com search engine history anonymization tool (AskEraser) could actually be used to track people rather than providing anonymity and protecting their privacy.

From epic.org:

"Consumer Privacy Coalition Files FTC Complaint Against Ask.com"

EPIC and five other groups filed a complaint ( http://www.epic.org/...aser_011908.pdf ) with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that Ask.com is engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices with the representations concerning AskEraser ( http://sp.ask.com/en...askeraser.shtml ), a search service that purports to protect privacy. Among the critical points highlighted by the consumer privacy coalition: (1) users must accept an AskEraser cookie and disable a genuine privacy feature in browsers that block cookies; (2) the AskEraser cookie is a unique persistent identifier that makes it easy for Ask.com, its business partners, and the government to track the activities of AskEraser users; and (3) Ask.com will disable the search delete feature -- the central purpose of the Ask Eraser service -- without notice to the user. The complaint follows a December letter ( http://www.epic.org/..._ AskEraser.pdf ) to Ask.com describing these security and privacy problems.


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#5 michael.helander (former Lavasoft employee)

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 05:39 PM

Hi Winchester -

Appreciate your continued interest. I posted my reply in our LS forum as a reference point for this discussion that had already been moved to several forums and blogs that I do not contribute to. Thus, rest assured that the 'damning finger' reference was not focused on any one individual, yourself included. Several companies in our business have also chosen to use their competitors misfortunes to their own advantage.

We just choose a different path. Instead of the badmouth bath, we want to tackle issues that we have with the industry on a very direct level. So, instead of using our blog and forums as a channel of communication to air our complaints, we go direct to the source to speak with companies that are considered the untouchables. Issues like the FTC complaint issued against Ask, news which we follow closely, is exactly why we would continue to work with Ask directly on making changes to their business model. It is the only way to really have an impact on what ends up on the consumer level.

I appreciate and respect your tenure as a security authority, so I believe that I understand why you directed your original inquiry to urizen as a connecting thread to Lavasoft past. However, you are surely aware by now that urizen has moved on to new and exciting endeavors, so it was highly unlikely that you would have ever received a reply within this forum.

So, I chose to respond to the thread, to yourself and to all of the others on multiple forums/blogs regarding the Ask topic.

At Lavasoft, we are all about the discussion. We do it intensely on a daily basis. However, we also strongly feel that these Lavasoft Support Forums are for just that...support. We like to keep debates about the business model of Lavasoft separate from these forums that need to focus on the masses with immediate malware issues. Trust me, Janie and the entire team of international security volunteers here on the forums have their hands full already!

You know and respect CalamityJane, who has a direct link to our office. So you are welcome to contact her directly through this forum if you ever wish to engage in additional discussions similar to this.

Regards,
Michael

#6 dvk01

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 07:37 PM

I can only say that I am astonished and dismayed at yet another antispyware company ging down this path

I have no problems with a toolbar in a browser, provided it is installed with user's consent and knowledge of the full facts. I do do not see the need for any antispyware program to have any search functionality inbuilt so no toolbar is needed

#7 winchester73

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 07:24 PM

Ahhhh, OK. Thanks Michael.

Cheers. :)
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#8 Nei1

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 09:32 PM

... I do do not see the need for any antispyware program to have any search functionality inbuilt...

Perhaps LS having extensive and in-depth discussions with Ask was foremost a strategic move to create social change in the industry.

In summary, perhaps the goal of the discussions was not to get their toolbar, but instead it was an opportunity to use engagement to motivate Ask's evolution.

It is interesting that Ask became involved in discussions with LS. Isn't it difficult to imagine the scenario that lead to such a development? From Ask’s perspective, weren't they entering into the lion's den by talking with LS? Might it not demonstrate Ask's interest in switching to the Light Side, not to mention that they might be considering "an adjustment" to their business plan?

If that change happens, wouldn't it be an amazing development? Their present business plan is repeated large and small across the internet, and if Ask (the big daddy of them all) were to give it up in favor of a plan that's more “good” and more profitable, wouldn't that be a lesson for all those other entities to consider?

Compared to the strange concept of having an innocuous toolbar in Ad-Aware, wouldn't this achievement be overwhelmingly more important?

So, first, it pains you to imagine that the price of Ask agreeing to get out of the spyware business is that we'll be forced to have an Ask toolbar in our Ad-Aware scanner.

But let's look ahead, however long or short it takes for Ask to come to our side. When the time comes, maybe Ask will realize that, yes, it would be weird and useless having a toolbar in Ad-Aware. But perhaps as they shift perspective and methods, they would discover many more organizations that would be willing to integrate their services if it became known that Ask had become a true service business. Then, it wouldn’t be so important for them to have a toolbar in our scanner, since they’d have so many other business prospects.

How's this for turning the tables: Instead of putting an Ask toolbar in Ad-Aware, how about if Ad-Aware were incorporated into the Ask toolbar? In addition to search results, each result would include a spyware-rating, courtesy of LS. In effect, the Power Of Ask would be turned to exposing and combating spyware.

Wouldn't that be mind blowing.

-Neil-





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