Kirk Lawrence at AskJeeves responds to our earlier post on AskJeeves.

The article can be found here but I’ve pasted it below as well:

Response to Sunbelt’s Blog Posting

Ask Jeeves recognizes that industry confusion exists around downloadable software products, which can lead to erroneous flagging of user-friendly products by anti-spyware makers. Ask Jeeves’ products are not adware or spyware and we take this issue very seriously. We recently contacted Sunbelt Software to correct, what Sunbelt itself recognizes, is inaccurate flagging of our products as adware and spyware by their software. This gross misrepresentation of our product was misleading to consumers and, as such, we felt it must be corrected.

We support industry efforts to regulate standards and believe strongly in the value of companies dedicated to clarifying vendor practices for the consumer while taking the necessary to steps to ensure that accurate information is provided to the public. Unfortunately, the most recent report released by Sunbelt Software still does not provide accurate information to consumers, further muddling what is already a confusing industry issue. Ask Jeeves takes great pride in the integrity of the Company’s Fun Web Products and family of My Search toolbars and is deeply concerned by the assertions made in Sunbelt’s report. The report includes old and inaccurate data that misrepresents our practices. This erroneous information disseminated to the public only serves to do consumers a disservice by taking the attention off rogue vendors and on to companies who create and distribute legitimate and user-friendly consumer products.

We’re proud of the steps Ask Jeeves has taken to protect consumers and feel it necessary to clarify the misstatements issued in the Sunbelt report:

· Ask Jeeves prohibits both its direct advertising and third-party distribution partners from using drive-by download practices. Ask Jeeves has, and will continue to terminate advertising partners that violate our contracts.
· Ask Jeeves also prohibits the use of any type of click fraud to force installations, such as a “fake close x” to mimic user-initiated click activity. The force-installs through security exploits that are cited in the report were in direct violation of our contracts, and those partners were terminated. In addition to the contractual terms we have in place, we have implemented technical measures to prevent rogue advertisers from engaging in this type of activity.
· Ask Jeeves requires clear, concise and complete disclosure to be provided before our applications are downloaded and installed either directly from our sites or through our third-party distribution partners. All Ask Jeeves downloadable software applications must be distributed with an End User License Agreement (EULA) that is easily accessible prior to installation. All Ask Jeeves applications also require the consent of the user prior to installation.

We don’t stop there. Ask Jeeves is consistently looking for ways to be more proactive in our approach to ensure that partners comply with our policies. Several months ago we created a compliance office to monitor the actions of the third party partners and distributors of our toolbars and bring partners who violate our software guidelines (http://sp.ask.com/docs/jeevesinc/policy_download.html) into compliance or, in some cases, terminate the partners that do not comply with required changes. We will actively investigate allegations made by Sunbelt Software against our partners to determine if they are in breach of our policies, and will take swift action if we uncover any violations. We recognize it is difficult to monitor the entire Internet and encourage our users to report violations of our policies by emailing us at reportviolations@askjeeves.com.

In closing, Ask Jeeves condemns practices that deceive users into downloading or installing software and will continue to work to ensure the only people downloading our products are those that choose to affirmatively engage with them for the great functionality they offer.

We appreciate the user and industry feedback that helps make our products better and we’re proud of the steps we’ve taken to protect consumers. We’ll continue to evolve with changing industry standards while delivering great products people that millions of active users enjoy every day.

Kirk Lawrence
Director of Internet Security and Privacy
Ask Jeeves, Inc.