Software and downloads policies
Advertisers should ensure a positive download experience for consumers, including clearly identifying the software that is being installed, its source, explaining the effects on the user’s browser settings, operating system, etc., and allowing easy uninstall. Use the policies on this page for help.
- Software must not include viruses, malware, spyware (including recording actions performed on the user's device such as keystroke logging), or self-installing programs, must not perform activities that are hidden to the user, and must not be designed to circumvent or impair spam filters.
- Downloads must not alter, reconfigure or disable existing software installed on the user’s device without clear disclosure to users before install.
- Dialing a phone number, or connecting remotely to another device or system is not allowed.
- Alerts or other technologies must not attempt to mislead users into believing something is wrong with their device that needs fixing when this is not the case (e.g., scareware).
- Software should be available on the website as advertised in ad copy.
- If the ad copy promotes “latest version, free” of a download, users must be able to download the latest version of the software from the website at no cost, and without the need to download any additional software (either for payment or free).
- Advertisers must not require a signup or cellular phone number as a condition of a free download.
- Cloaking behaviors or technology is not allowed.
- Software may not replace or add to the web page by injecting content from a source with which the site owner does not have an affiliation.
- Software must not limit the user’s control or programmatic control of the user’s browser default search settings, home page and new tab, either through additional questioning/prompts or other means of prevention when a change to the default search, home page or new tab settings is attempted.
All relevant information must be disclosed to end users before install, including, but not limited to:
- Origin and scope of the download, including where the download originates if it originates from a different domain.
- All software that is included in the download.
- Actions and effects that the software will have on the user’s device and settings, including changes to the search providers, autocomplete, homepages, local file systems and other configurations and user's settings.
- Alteration of existing software on the user's device.
- Any variations from the official software.
- Software uninstall information.
- All disclosures and statements required by this policy must be made available in close proximity to the offer, and must be clear, conspicuous and legible.
Any software download must include an uninstall function in the Programs and Features or Add/Remove Programs control panel, in the start menu or the operating system’s default removal method.
- The uninstall process must not be difficult, confusing or made conditional to payments, subscriptions, other downloads etc.
- The uninstall process must be complete and permanent for each software download. No traces of the specific uninstalled software can remain on the
In addition to the above:
- All software that is included in the download must be disclosed.
- Advertisers must not alter advertised software or bundles (for example by injecting code into the bundle).
- End users must be presented an option to easily decline each individual software within the bundle.
- Installer and bundles must not crash or freeze programs or the device.
- Chained bundlers (bundle within a bundle) are not allowed.
- Undisclosed files that are unnecessary or unrelated to the software being installed must not be delivered.
- Changes to user’s device and settings, including changes to the search providers, homepages, local file systems and other configurations and user's settings should generally be easily reversible without negative impact.
- The bundle must contain offers.