StopBadware.org Labels RealPlayer Software as Badware
Versions 10.5 and 11 lack adequate disclosures to users
Cambridge, MA – 01/31/2008 — StopBadware.org, the consumer protection initiative developed to combat badware, today released an alert on two versions of RealNetworks, Inc.’s RealPlayer software application, labeling both as badware. The group found RealPlayer Version 10.5 does not adequately disclose advertising behaviors and that RealPlayer Version 11 bundles an additional application without properly notifying the user.
RealPlayer 11 is the current version of the application, offered on http://www.real.com as an Internet video and multimedia player. RealPlayer 10.5 is an older version that 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 more importantly, does not remove this software when RealPlayer is uninstalled. Users are not informed by the installer or uninstaller application of the connection between RealNetworks and Rhapsody Player Engine.
“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. “RealPlayer is a widely recognized and installed product, so it is especially important for RealNetworks to take a leadership role in responsible disclosure.”
A full copy of the alert, with StopBadware.org’s full recommendations to RealNetworks, can be found at http://www.stopbadware.org/home/reports.
To download a full copy of “StopBadware.org Labels RealPlayer Software as Badware” press release, please follow this link.
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.