There seems to be a belief on the part of organizers of Spyware workshops that if both sides got together they could figure out these issues over what is and is not spyware. This past Tuesday CNet hosted an event in San Francisco that was exciting mainly for the high levels of tension that existed in the room. That's what happens when people concernced for end user privacy and protection mix with representatives from very litagious organizations. It's hard to say what you really think when you could be subjected to nasty letters from attorneys just for using a term like spyware. Of course nothing scares my new hero Ben Edelman from speaking his mind! You should have heard him lay out the nefarious practices of some of the adware vendors. It was beautiful. As a matter of fact you can hear him at this link.
Of course the result from Tuesday's workshop were not conclusive at all. If anything they confused the issue even more because adware vendors got to sit in on the same forums as those that counter their programs. A great summary of the day's events was blogged by Dan Farber.
So next week, a different forum with some different tensions. At the Network Advertisers Initiative Workshop in New York the adware vendors will not only face the anti-spyware vendors, the FTC, privacy groups, but they will be up against the big dogs in this industry, the online advertisers!