StopBadware.org Labels RealPlayer Software as Badware
Two versions, two different badware behaviors
CAMBRIDGE, MA - StopBadware.org, the consumer protection
initiative developed to combat badware, today released an alert about
RealNetworks, Inc.'s RealPlayer software application. The group found
RealPlayer version 10.5 to be badware because of inadequate disclosure
of advertising behavior and RealPlayer version 11 to be badware because
it bundles an additional application without disclosure. RealPlayer 11
is the current version of the application, offered onhttp://www.real.comas an internet video and multimedia player.
RealPlayer 10.5 is an older version which is still widely distributed
through such sites as BBC Radio and through the Firefox web browser's
"missing plug-in" capability.
The report highlights two areas of concern:
• The Software does not fully, accurately, clearly, and conspicuously
disclose the principal and significant features and functionality of
the application prior to installation - The advertising software
bundled with RealPlayer is misleadingly called a 'message center', and
is described incompletely and inconspicuously in the EULA as software
designed to provide useful software updates. When RealPlayer 10.5 is
installed, the advertising features of this 'message center' are
enabled by default for users who choose not to register their personal
information with RealNetworks after the software is installed.
• Software installs deceptively - RealPlayer 11 does not disclose that
it installs Rhapsody Player Engine, and does not remove this software
when RealPlayer is uninstalled. Users are not informed by the installer
or uninstaller of the connection between RealNetworks and Rhapsody
"Software producers have a responsibility to inform users, clearly and
unambiguously, about what software will be installed on their computers
and what it will do," said Maxim Weinstein, manager of StopBadware.org
at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.
"RealNetworks does not allow users to make an informed choice about how
their computers will be used. We hope to see a new version of
RealPlayer soon that addresses these concerns."
About StopBadware.org StopBadware.org is a nonprofit consumer protection initiative working
to combat badware,including malicious software such as spyware,
incessant pop-up ads, or other obtrusive programs. StopBadware.org is
led by Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society
and Oxford University's Oxford Internet Institute. Consumer Reports
WebWatch serves as an unpaid special advisor. The initiative is
supported by Google, Lenovo, PayPal, and VeriSign. For more information, please visit <http://www.stopbadware.org>.