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Symantec settlement riles Hotbar

TEL AVIV, Israel, March 1 (UPI) -- A day after a legal settlement defined Hotbar.com as "low-risk adware," the company said it was "the most upstanding adware company" in the market.

According to the terms of the settlement, the Symantec Internet security company will be allowed to label Hotbar applications as "low risk adware" and will guide users in erasing the applications from their systems.

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Hotbar offers diversions such as animations, e-cards and emoticons on its home page, which then gather information about the user's surf habits for advertising purposes.

"We don't understand why they're vilifying us; it's just not fair," said Hotbar founder Oren Dovronsky via the Hebrew news Web site Ynet. "There is no adware company in the market so upstanding as Hotbar.

"Indeed, there is a great confusion of concepts. It's not at all clear what adware is. If it's a program that presents advertisements, then there are a lot of programs that need to be included in that category, including MSN Messenger," Dovronsky said.

Dovronsky was referring to a new category, "low risk adware," that Symantec recently created to guide users. Instead of erasing a low-risk program automatically, Symantec software notifies the user of the adware's presence and guides him or her on how to remove it from the system.

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"The difference between us and other spyware/adware companies is that the other programs are downloaded onto the computer without the user knowing," Dovronsky said via the news site.

"Hotbar's programs are never hidden in other programs -- a user that downloads Hotbar knows he's downloading Hotbar. We don't play games and we don't deceive users," Dovronsky added.

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