Friday, July 07, 2006

MS Selling Spyware?

A recent class-action suit filed in Washington and California is suing Microsoft for violating the spyware laws of those states. This article in the Register about the "Windows Genuine Advantage" (a.k.a. "cripple your computer if you're using a non-verified copy of Windows") program talks about what MS says WGA does, and what it actually does (a lot more).

One of the interesting parts of this was the relevant portion of the Washington state anti-spyware law that's being used:
(1) Induce an owner or operator to install a computer software component onto the computer by intentionally misrepresenting the extent to which installing the software is necessary for security or privacy reasons or in order to open, view, or play a particular type of content; and

(2) Deceptively cause the execution on the computer of a computer software component with the intent of causing the owner or operator to use the component in a manner that violates any other provision of this section.

I'm sure they'll manage to weasel their way out of the "intentionally" part through a finely-developed case of corporate amnesia ("We did what? I'm sorry, we deleted all records of everything we did more than 30 days ago. I forget. Next question?"), but perhaps a little bit of public shame would clairify things.

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