(see updates at the end)
You searched for an app, you downloaded it, and then you scrutinized the prompts to be sure that you installed only the app and the additional offers you wanted. And still you were unpleasantly surprised with what happened to your PC: your search engine changed to one that's filled with ads. You have new browser extensions, and apps that seem to bug you or scare you into to upgrading to a paid version.
Bad news: you got tricked by an unethical software bundler. And you're not alone. We also get tricked.
We want this to stop, so we're going to do something about it. The antivirus companies too: we worked together to identify some of the worst bundler behaviors that we all think should be stopped so we can better protect you, the consumer. We agreed to start acting against the violating bundlers: we'll get them added to our Deceptor list and feeds. Once the antivirus companies verify, they'll detect, block, and prevent these unethical bundlers from running on your PC.
Here's some examples of the kinds of bad bundler behaviors we're going to focus on fixing:
- Download managers who don't make it clear to you that they're not the app you were trying to get, but a wrapper that's going to offer you additional apps.
- Offers that don't make it clear to you that they're offers, or try to make you think that they're part of app you wanted, or act like they're specifically recommended.
- Unclear and inconsistent ways for you to accept, skip, or decline offers and each component in the offers.
- Bundlers and download managers that don't stop when you ask them to, leave remnants on your desktop, or don't uninstall their offers when you cancel installing the app you wanted.
- Bundlers that ignore you when you say "no".
The complete list of Deceptor behaviors, as well as examples and prescriptive guidance on how to avoid violating them, can be found on our Requirements Page.
Over the past few weeks we've been notifying as many bundlers that we can to prepare them for this change and to answer the questions they have. We have free programs available: bundlers can register with us for notification of Deceptor violations, and they can also get free certification from us.
We're encouraged with the changes that some bundlers and download managers are already making, and we're hoping that come April, there won't be many bad actors for us to call out, because they've already decided that cleaning up and not tricking you is the right thing to do.
1 March 2018: This is the press release regarding our program.
8 March 2018: This is the deck we presented in our open industry call.