Interesting article on organization Lavasoft founded. This comes from the EYE newsletter that lavasoft puts out. Worst Practices – Why we have decided to leave COAST Michael A. Wood - VP Sales/Lavasoft COAST Representative Nicolas Stark Computing AB (Lavasoft) announces that we will no longer tolerate, support, or participate in the COAST (Consortium of Anti-Spyware Technology Vendors) organization. The current leadership’s overt agenda to concentrate on revenue generation flies in the face of the spirit of the original mission Lavasoft set forth when we founded COAST. Not only do their current efforts shed a bad light on COAST, but also reflect badly on the entire anti-trackware industry. To understand our decision to leave the organization we founded, you will need to understand what COAST was intended to be and why we started it in the first place. Over the last two years we have become increasingly concerned about the obvious problems with overall standards and the unethical behavior of many new entrants to the anti-trackware industry. Nicolas Stark began the Ad-aware project in direct response to the security industry’s inability/refusal to address on-line Privacy and aggressive advertising issues. The goal then as it is now is to provide a means to inform the user of what has been installed on their systems, to enable them to remove said content at their choice, and to bring pressure on the advertising/software industry to change the way they do business. It was expected and inevitable that the popularity and success of Ad-aware would cause others to see an opportunity and join the industry. This is just simple economics and is the way all industries begin and later, grow. What we have found both extremely disturbing and to be a great disappointment is that most of those who chose to enter the anti-trackware industry have not had the fortitude or desire to adhere to the standards we have set from the beginning. They see potential sales and revenue as the goal of their existence rather than embracing the causes of consumer reporting, ethical advertising, and social change. In June of 2003, we began what has become known as COAST (The Consortium of Anti-Spyware Technology Vendors). Our goal was to bring together a group of industry leaders to formulate detection/definition standards, a code of ethical conduct, consumer education, and an easily accessible place where everyone could come to find information about companies and applications that adhere to the highest standards of public service. Implicit in our original mandate was that COAST would also provide software developers with a centralized resource for contacting anti-trackware vendors directly to discover exactly why their applications were detected and what they would be required to change in order to be removed from each vendor’s database. We held and still hold that this process is part of each vendor member’s basic responsibilities as an anti-trackware developer. These ideals have become corrupt and distorted by the organization we first founded with the highest expectations and not because we became a party to them, but because we did not choose our partners wisely. What started as an idea with only the noblest of intentions has degenerated into a commercialistic quagmire where sources of funding have become a priority and the ideals Lavasoft represents an impediment to their enrichment at the expense of both new entrants to the industry and the companies represented in our collective databases. How is charging an emerging anti-trackware developer $2,500.00/year or a large software development company up to $5,000.00/year just to join COAST equitable or even fair. The current Consortium plan is to have software developers (makers of applications the industry has added to their collective databases) apply and pay to join, then to charge them a certification fee to review their separate applications. This we vehemently argued and voted against to no avail. The only possible benefit of this system is that the COAST organization is enriched rather than to do what it was meant to do. We hold that COAST does not need to charge exorbitant rates for membership to effectively perform its mandate nor will we stand by and accept what they are trying to do without doing what we do best; fighting to protect the public from unethical behavior whether it be in the applications we detect or in those we associate with. Not only do the other vendor members of COAST focus their collective attention on revenue streams, some also engage in some of the worst practices that Lavasoft was first conceived to fight against. We have attempted to force them to realize the error of their ways and to get COAST back on the right track, but it has become obvious that they neither value our counsel nor do they see it as relevant to their current goals. We will not be associated with companies that see the reporting of unsolicited commercial e-mail, illegal use of registered trademarks in advertising, and theft of intellectual property as inconveniences rather than actionable offenses. They have chosen to focus on commercial advantage (though COAST is a registered Non-Profit) rather than to understand the larger implications of what they are doing or to act decisively and collectively to present a unified front to the advertising industry. They either will not or are not competent enough to investigate fully those they would ask to become members or take the time to realize that unethical behavior of any member reflects directly on all members and makes the effort useless at the very least. In light of the failure of COAST to place the end user in the forefront of their thinking and because they have decided to concentrate on revenue streams and process, we are announcing our rejection of their goals as detrimental to the causes of on-line Privacy and advertising ethics. We will not allow our message and mission to become derailed by anyone. Be they our industry competitors or advertising giants makes no difference. Too often we are told that there is no right or wrong, only shades of gray. This article is meant to put the industry on notice that Lavasoft will not be intimidated, coerced, or persuaded that we need to go along to get along. There is a right way to do things and compromise is not an acceptable method. You either do what you say you will do, do it well, or you stop doing it.