Real Player is poorly written adware/spyware. If you absolutely MUST have Real Player you can render it somewhat harmless. However, please be aware that RealPlayer overrides cookies settings in IE and it WILL put cookies on your system regardless of how you configure it. Substantial evidence exists that RealMedia tracks a great deal of personal information.
In RealPlayer setup, uncheck all of the options under internet. Again, please note that unchecking "Enable Cookies" HAS NO EFFECT on Real Media cookies.
Uncheck all the options under automatic services. Uncheck automatic update.
Find the real subfolder in application data (usually "c:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Application Data\Real). Note that this is not the installation folder.
You can safely (and should) delete all of the contents. Do not delete the folder itself. Right click on the folder and go to sharing and security, then security. Click the advanced tab and uncheck inherit parent permissions. This will then bring up a dialog to copy or remove. Click on remove. Click on add and enter "adminstrators." Allow the last three options, "read permissions," "change permissions," and take ownership." Click OK until all the property boxes are dismissed.
If you do not change permissions, Real will simply replace the contents and folder structure and then start collecting information again.
You can prevent cookies by preventing the RM browser from reaching RealMedia.
Find the file "hosts" in C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc.
Double click on the file. There is no extension so you will have to select notepad to open it.
It should contain one entry:
Save the file.
Check your cookies folder and delete any Real cookies that you may have inadvertently taken.
FINALLY, write to anyone you can complain to about RealMedia's arrogant attitude towards personal privacy.