I was wondering if the Ask.com toolbar is spyware. I play a game called Minecraft and it requires Java. The Java installer also installed the Ask.com toolbar. I want to play one of my favorite games but my step dad says this toolbar collects and transmits personal information such as bank account info, etc. What do I do in this situation?
Just uninstall the ask toolbar from Control panel -> Programs -> Uninstall a Program
It will leave java installed so you can still play minecraft.
There are many kinds of bad software, and Ask Toolbar, while stupid, is not trying to steal your bank account info. It is a good idea to avoid installing software you don't need. Its a lot easier to keep a nice clean system free of the software that really IS trying to break into your bank account.
While AskToolbar is not a spyware it hijacks your browser's default homepage and search engines. Also many report that its removal is difficult (simply trying to uninstall it from Control Panel did not work for some people).
When Installing Java, make sure to clear the check box next to Install AskToolbar so that it doesn't install it.
There is a petition here to demand removal of AskToolbar from Java. Sign it here and pass it around:
Looking online for a generally accepted standard on the behaviors of spyware is difficult. An example of one is the "AntiSpyware Coalition" but their last "newsroom" update was in 2008.
Spyware generally attempts to install itself without your consent, and resists attempts to legitimately remove it.
The Java installer provides a check box allowing you to opt-out of Ask.com toolbar installation, and also, the uninstaller does cleanly remove the software (though I don't know if it resets default settings to the way they were before install). So by leaving the box checked and clicking Next in the installer you allowed the install.
I am not sure if the Ask.com toolbar collects personal information. It's possible that it does - I believe toolbars can collect things in relation to the browser, such as URLs you type, browsing history, etc. though you would have to study the provided APIs by Internet Explorer in regard to third-party browser extensions to be sure. Please note I do not know for a fact that the Ask.com toolbar does this. The Ask.com EULA that you agree to by clicking on may permit it, and you should read it (I haven't).
You just have to pay attention to the installer dialogs instead of blindly clicking through it.
Anyway, as others have mentioned, you can just remove it from Start -> Control Panel -> Programs and Features and it is gone.