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Lawsuit claims Microsoft's WGA tool is spyware

Evan Blass
06.30.06
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You've probably noticed that the Internet's been buzzing lately about Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy software that up until recently was "phoning home" user info every day, and now one Brian Johnson of Los Angeles has turned the issue into a legal matter by filing suit against Redmond in U.S. District Court in Seattle. Johnson's attorney Scott Kamber -- who also represented consumers in that class-action suit regarding the Sony rootkit debacle -- is arguing that a recent version of the WGA package, which was rather inconspicuously pushed to users' computers as part of a security update, fits the legal definition of "spyware" because its existence and purpose weren't plainly disclosed to consumers. Microsoft spokesperson Jim Desler counters this argument by pointing out that the WGA tool is not malicious in nature -- which presumably distinguishes it from the "bad spyware" -- and that the "real issue" here is the "industry-wide problem" of software piracy. Still, Microsoft changed the latest version of the tool by beefing up the licensing agreement and eliminating those daily status reports, so even though Desler calls the suit "baseless," we wouldn't be surprised if Johnson ends up with some hush money to prevent the negative publicity that a trial would surely bring.

[Via Slashdot]

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