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Google, Sun, Lenovo, Others Out To Shame Spyware

Several technology companies, consumer groups, and academics banded together Wednesday to form an organization that will shine a light on shady spyware and adware to call attention to their transgressions.

The group, which calls itself, is headed by Harvard Law's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Oxford University's Oxford Internet Institute, backed by Google, Sun Microsystems, and Lenovo, and assisted by Consumer Reports' WebWatch.

" is a 'Neighborhood Watch' campaign aimed at fighting badware," the group said on its Web site, which debuted Wednesday. "Badware" is the term the group uses to, as it said, "be a big tent" rather than limit itself to historical adware and spyware.

The site will initially act as a clearinghouse for information about badware, but the group also promised a more proactive role. "We aim to put badware developers on notice," StopBadware said in its FAQ. "We'll be writing standards and testing procedures to define what badware is, and we'll spotlight the worst offenders."

Whether the light of day, or shame, has an effect on the multi-million dollar spyware and adware business has yet to be seen, of course. Previously, the only tactic that worked was taking purveyors to court, as the Center for Democracy and Technology urged the Federal Trade Commission to do Tuesday with 180solutions, the world's second-largest adware maker.

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