StopBadware.org, a consumer protection initiative backed by Google, Sun Microsystems and others, on Monday slapped a "badware" label on AOL 9.0, AOL's free client-software.
Some reasons the report cites for the decision are AOL's inclusion of bundled software applications and nondisclosure of additional installed components.
StopBadware.org is run by Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Oxford University's Oxford Internet Institute. It is one of several efforts to battle spyware.
"Clearly, AOL does not belong in the same category as the malicious badware providers we have previously identified, but the free version of AOL 9.0 that we tested, in our view, does not live up to the company's rich legacy," John Palfrey, co-director of StopBadware.org, said in a statement.
StopBadware.org has several recommendations for AOL, most of which deal with disclosing certain behavior.
"No company has done more to fight malware than AOL," company spokesman Andrew Weinstein said. "We're reviewing the suggestions made in the report, and we are taking steps to address them, as they mostly involve minor UI issues. "