After years of seeing all manner of user complaints, ridicule and derision of AOL in various internet forums and most notably usenet, This story comes as no real surprize. Even if AOL moves to change their software to remove the behavior the folks at are talking about, this is going to be one of those things that just never goes away.

If for example, usenet posters thoght they had reason to slam AOL before, this is going to be years worth of amunition that AOL will not be allowed to forget for a very long time to come, if ever. says AOL’s free client software displayed characteristics consistent with “badware.”
The New York Times
By Tom Zeller Jr.
The New York Times
Published: August 28, 2006, 9:50 PM PDT
Dealing yet another blow to AOL, a leading software watchdog group warned users away from AOL’s free client software Monday on the ground that it displayed characteristics consistent with “badware.”

The term badware describes a wide array of downloadable applications that try to install extra components on a computer without clearly informing users of what they are or what they will do.

The group,, posted an “open inquiry” into the AOL software Monday, meaning that a dialogue has been opened with the company and that a full “badware” designation is still pending.

The report, however, stated that the AOL client software, which provides subscribers with a suite of services, also installed extra software deceptively, altered the Web browser and other computer components without notifying the user, and did not uninstall completely, among other “badware behaviors.”

Similar characteristics are often found in pernicious forms of spyware and adware, often called malware. The StopBadware organization was founded in part to assist consumers in spotting shady software.  The group is run by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and the Oxford Internet Institute of Oxford University.

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