DMA Sets Standards for Software Downloads; Effort to Increase Confidence in Online Marketing Channels
January 13, 2006 – The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) today announced that it will begin requiring its member organizations to adhere to new guidelines for how marketers should treat software that may be downloaded onto a consumers personal computer or similar devices (e.g., PDAs, MP3 players). The new guideline was approved today by DMA’s Board of Directors and immediately becomes part of DMA’s comprehensive Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice, adherence to which is a requirement for DMA membership.
“While software technology by itself is neutral, substantial harm, including “modem hijacking,” identity theft and significant decreases in performance can result from deceptive and unethical uses of downloadable software,” said Louis Mastria, DMA’s vice president for interactive and emerging media. “We are committed to taking a strong stand against such practices in order to increase confidence in the online channel.”
The guideline states that marketers should not install, have installed, or use, software or other similar technology on a computer or similar device that initiates deceptive practices or interferes with a user’s expectation of the functionality of the computer and its programs.
Such practices could include software that takes control of a computer (e.g., relaying spam and viruses, modem hijacking, denial of service attacks, or endless loop pop-up advertisements).
Also prohibited would be programs that deceptively modify or disable security or browser settings or prevent the user’s efforts to disable or uninstall the software.
The guideline also lays out what marketers should do when offering software or other similar technology that is installed on a computer for marketing purposes. Specifically, such programs must give the user clear and conspicuous notice and choice at the point of joining a service or before the software or other similar technology begins operating on the user’s computer, including notice of significant effects of having the software or other similar technology installed.
Marketers must also give the user an easy means to uninstall the technology and/or disable all functionality.
Finally, marketers should always provide an easily accessible link to privacy policies and contact information, as well as clear identification of company making the offer.
“DMA members represent some of the nation’s largest and best-known consumer and nonprofit brands. Protecting those brands – and the consumers who place their trust in them – is vitally important,” said Patricia Kachura, DMA’s senior vice president for ethics and consumer affairs.
# # #
back to top