My Way Search/My Web Search
What is the product?
The My Way Search/My Web Search Toolbar is a browser search tool compatible
with Internet Explorer (4.x or above) and Netscape 4.x. The Toolbar displays
algorithmic search results from Google, Ask.com, Yahoo and LookSmart,
along with sponsored listings, primarily from Google. Users can add or remove
additional software products to the Toolbar. These products include Smiley
Central, Popular Screensavers, Cursor Mania, My Mail Stationery, My Mail
Signature, HistorySwatter and PopSwatter.
The Toolbar provides direct access to content on the My Way portal and
users may add buttons accessing My Way content to their Toolbar.
The Toolbar’s customizable features include the ability to select a default
search provider, as well as the ability to add, remove, and reorder the
buttons. In addition, users can create up to 5 personalized buttons on the
Toolbar, each of which can include up to 40 personalized links.
Users also have the option to clear their search history, to enable offline
browsing and to display certain of the Toolbar’s buttons in color or black
The Toolbar requires a minimum of a 486 Processor, 16 MB RAM, VGA display,
and a mouse in order to operate properly.
The My Way Search/My Web Search Toolbar and all enhancement products are free
How does a user get the product?
The Toolbar is distributed by subsidiaries of Ask.com in connection with
products developed by Ask.com.
These products include Smiley Central, Popular Screensavers, Cursor
Mania, My Mail Stationery, My Mail Signature, HistorySwatter and PopSwatter
(the "Fun Web Products"). For these products, My Web Search Toolbar
is included in the download and is the means by which a user accesses the Fun
Web Products application(s). That is, users can add or remove Fun Web
Products buttons to their Toolbar. These buttons allow a user to access the
corresponding Fun Web Products software and services.
In each instance, the Toolbar and the Fun Web Products are the only elements of
the download. Since the Fun Web Products software is accessed via the
Toolbar, it cannot be uninstalled without removing the Toolbar (it can,
however, be deleted or added to the Toolbar).
Is the product "Spyware" or “Adware”?
No. The Toolbar does not collect any personal information, does not
monitor the sites a user visits, does not monitor a user’s behavior on
the Internet, does not log or track keystrokes, does not serve or
facilitate ads, and is completely spyware-free and adware-free. Specifically:
The Toolbar software does not collect personal
information. The Toolbar does not solicit or collect a user’s name,
address, or email address nor does it require a member name or password. The
Toolbar does not attempt to collect personal data upon startup or at
any time as a requirement of use.
The Toolbar does not track the websites
visited by the end user (or any related click-stream activity), and does not
monitor or scrape information when users are on other websites.
The Toolbar software does not serve or
facilitate “contextual” advertising or pop-up ads.
The Toolbar provides a customizable search experience on
an anonymous basis and without any adware, spyware, additional monitoring, or
What are the guidelines by which the My Way Search/My Web Search Toolbar
When distributing the Toolbar, Ask.com, through its online advertising:
clear and prominent notification that the Toolbar is included as part of the
provides a link and opportunity to review the End User License Agreement
(“EULA”) prior to installation.
that each end user accept the EULA prior to installation.
Ask.com does not:
“Drive-By” downloads to distribute the Toolbar.
deceptive or counter-intuitive processes to install the Toolbar.
Does the Toolbar collect any personal information?
No. The Toolbar does not collect personal information. The Toolbar
does not solicit or collect a user’s name, address, birthdate, or email
address, nor does it require a member name or password in order to operate.
The Toolbar does not attempt to collect personal data upon startup, or
at any time, as a requirement of use.
What is the “My Info” feature?
Certain versions of the Toolbar include an optional “My Info” button. This
button allows users to access customized information (e.g., local sports
scores, local movie listings, horoscope, customized news categories and
providers) directly from their Toolbar. If users wish to access the My Info
feature, they can do so by creating a username and password and supplying a
zip code. No personally-identifiable information is required for this feature
and this feature is not a requirement of installation. It is an optional
feature that can be added or removed at any time and is intended solely as an
enhancement to the user experience.
Does the Toolbar track where a user goes on the Web?
No. The Toolbar does not monitor the websites visited by the end user,
or in any manner collect or report any information about the websites that an
end user visits (or any related click-stream activity), nor does the Toolbar
monitor or scrape information when users are on other websites.
What information does the My Web Search Toolbar transmit?
The Toolbar does have limited communication with Ask.com servers. First, it
must communicate with a server in connection with the delivery and
customization of search services. Second, the Toolbar communicates with My
Web Search servers on an anonymous, non-personally identifiable basis to
gauge usage by advertising source and initial download source. Such
activities are described in greater detail below:
The Toolbar, in the course of processing a given
search query, sends a request to the My Web Search servers. This request
includes the keyword query, time of day, browser type, default language
setting, IP address, an anonymous unique ID, and a code that identifies the
distribution source of the Toolbar used to conduct a given search. If the
search query is being generated as the result of a search term (rather than a
URL address) being entered into a browser’s address bar or a misspelled URL,
My Web Search also receives the misspelled URL address or search term. My Web
Search uses this information in order
to properly process the search request. For example, this data provides My
Web Search with: search results language preference; aggregated click
information for the purpose of ensuring that algorithmic search providers are
appropriately compensated; information that allows My Web Search to understand the source of the download
(e.g., whether it came from an advertisement for Smiley Central or Cursor
Mania) and the advertiser that generated it; aggregated and anonymous usage
and retention information; and aggregated and anonymous search query
information for the purpose of further monetizing commercially oriented
All information transmitted in the course of
processing a search query is retained, if at all, on an anonymous basis. In
addition, all information about search activity is observed on an aggregated
basis only, and My Web Search does not disclose any non-aggregated
information to third parties, except as might be required by a valid legal
process such as a search warrant, subpoena, statute, or court order, or to
protect someone's safety.
The Toolbar does send a small configuration request
to My Web Search servers upon start-up of the user’s browser. This request is
typically 1k in size and is made to confirm that the Toolbar is properly
configured in accordance with a user’s settings and preferences, as well as
to track, on an aggregated non-personally-identifiable basis, user retention
and usage by advertising source (e.g., understanding how users are acquired
through XYZ ad network and their retention rate over time).
The Toolbar does enable My Web Search to transmit
updates to the software upon notice to the user. Like many major online
software distributors – including Google, AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, Real,
etc. – My Web Search has designed
updateable software in order to ensure that it can be kept current and in
working order. Such updates will only occur upon prior notice to the user.
Does the My Web Search Toolbar use “cookies”?
distribution source. This information allows My Web Search to properly
distinguish its Toolbars by download source and advertising source and to
analyze product retention and usage on an aggregated, non-personalized basis.
Web Search uses a cookie to record, for the benefit of the user, which search
engine a user has selected as his/her default provider. The Toolbar cookies
do not track users’ use of the Internet in any other way or store any personally
identifiable information. In addition, these cookies are not disclosed to
third parties, except as may be required by a valid legal process such as a
search warrant, subpoena, statute, or court order or to protect someone's
Why do some spyware services mistake the product for "Spyware"?
There is a substantial amount of confusion and misinformation on the Web
about how spyware detection software works and what “spyware” actually means.
This lack of a single standard is compounded by the use of phrases like
“adware,” “spyware,” “malware,” “dataminer” and the inclusion of programs on
some spyware lists simply because the program is an add-on.
As referenced above, the My Way Search/My Web Search Toolbar is not spyware.
My Web Search has engaged in a productive dialog with many providers of
spyware detection software that have acknowledged, upon reviewing the
product, that the Toolbar is not spyware and removed it or properly
classified the software. If your particular spyware detection program is classifying
the Toolbar software as “spyware”, please ensure that your detection program
has been updated to include the most recent reference file.
Does the Toolbar “hijack” a user's home page?
No. The Toolbar does not “hijack” or over-write a user’s designated home page
settings. However, certain versions of the Toolbar direct the user to a My
Way (or My Web Search) search results page in the event that a user enters a
search term (as opposed to a URL address) into the browser’s address bar or
misspells a URL. In all such cases, notification of inclusion of this
software is prominently displayed in the introductory paragraphs of the EULA
and as one of the key product highlights on the Toolbar’s download page or of
the Fun Web Products program with which it is being distributed. Depending
upon the version of the Toolbar, this address bar search feature can be
eliminated by either uninstalling the Toolbar or uninstalling a separate
executable (which is clearly labeled in the user’s Add/Remove Programs function
as “Search Assistant – My Way” or "Search Assistant - My Web
Users who downloaded the Toolbar after March 2004 have the ability to disable
this software without uninstalling the Toolbar.
Why does the My Web Search Toolbar create registry entries on my computer?
Registry entries are used by most software installed on a user’s computer.
The Toolbar uses registry entries for two primary purposes. The first is to
ensure that the Toolbar software functions properly in the Windows environment
and in other software such as Internet Explorer. The second is to maintain
and store user-designated preferences. As an example, registry entries are
used to identify whether or not a user has selected to activate certain
features (e.g., “Enable offline browsing” or “Color buttons always”). A
registry key may also be used in order to store content a user has created
using certain software such as a customized “smiley” in Smiley Central.
Some of these registry entries, which neither contain any programming or
executable software code nor any personally identifiable information, may
remain after a user has uninstalled the Toolbar. The sole reason for this is
that the Toolbar would maintain the user's preferences should he/she wish to
re-install the software. For users wishing to permanently delete the Toolbar
registry entries, My Web Search publishes an uninstaller that can be accessed
by clicking here. Please note that registry entries
containing a user's customized settings for PopSwatter, the Toolbar's pop-up
blocker, may remain. The sole reason for this is that the customized settings
are respected in the event that the user has PopSwatter installed in another