Y'all know that I hate spyware....
The Title of my Blog says it all.
A big area of concern for me recently has been Google Ads. Far too many people are being directed to sponsored advertisements, and far too often these sponsored advertisements are for malware.
Let's look at the recent complaint laid by the State of Washington against "Secure Computer LLC" (what a misleading name *that* is).
A PDF of the complaint for injunctive relief is available online at http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/dayart/20060125/spywaresuit.pdf. On page 28 that complaint shows a screenshot of a Google web search. The sponsored links include a link to "Microsoft Antispyware", but the link does not take users to the *real* Microsoft Antispyware product. Instead it directed users to the fake antispyware product described in the complaint.
I do not believe for a moment that Google were not aware that there was a legitimate product called "Microsoft Antispyware". I also do not believe, for a moment, that Google do not have the technical ability to cross check "sponsored advertisements" to ensure that they are not deliberately misleading and deceptive.
So, what do we do? For some reason the world loves Google. This is a company that is gathering more and more and more data about the Web and how we use it every day. Will we, one day, suddenly wake up and wonder whether it was a good idea to let one company be so pervasive?
Anyway, I digress. Ben Edelman in his latest blog entry (http://www.benedelman.org/news/012606-1.html) refers to a product called "SiteAdvisor". What SiteAdvisor apparently does is vet sponsored links with the intention of warning users about "dangerous" links (dangerous being my description).
I have not tested this product, but it looks like a good idea (assuming that SiteAdvisor themselves prove to be trustworthy as time goes on).
If I get the chance to download and test SiteAdvisor I'll publicise the results. It would be wonderful to be able to protect users from the crooksters on the Internet, especially considering Google seems to be willing to take their money, but not willing to check their bona fides *before* complaints are received and users are harmed.