The problem with spyware is that it can be in the eye of the beholder. There are companies that decry the general problem, but have their own software report back to a central server.
This kind of thing can result in a conflict of interest: “Spyware is spyware only if I don’t have a corporate interest in it.” Here’s the most recent example:
Microsoft’s Windows AntiSpyware application is no longer flagging adware products from Claria Corp. as a threat to PC users.
Less than a week after published reports of acquisition talks between Microsoft Corp. and the Redwood City, Calif.-based distributor of the controversial Gator ad-serving software, security researchers have discovered that Microsoft has quietly downgraded its Claria detections.
If you’re a user of AntiSpyware, you can fix this. Claria’s spyware is now flagged as “Ignore” by default, but you can still change the action to “Quarantine” or “Remove.” I recommend “Remove.”
Edited to add: Actually, I recommend using a different anti-spyware program.