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Zango's lawsuit
Written by Daniel   
Tuesday, 05 June 2007 11:10

What happens when my Anti-spy ware identifies your legitimate software as spy ware refusing to allow access to your program? A bill before congress hopes to address this issue...Lawsuits are of course not withstanding! Am I responsible if my software blocks yours on a users machine? What are a Anti- spy wear makers responsibilities?

 Spyware skirmishes: Spy versus antispy
By Venkat Balasubramani
Published: June 5, 2007, 4:00 AM PDT
C/Net News
Perspective Software provider Zango opened up a new front in the spyware war by filing a pair of lawsuits against two antispyware companies (PC Tools and Kaspersky Lab). This litigation is aggressive and risky.


Antispyware efforts have gained momentum in the past several years. Zango itself is no stranger to these efforts, having settled (in late 2006) FTC charges that it "used unfair and deceptive methods to download adware and obstruct consumers from removing it." The New York Attorney General similarly sued and settled with Direct Revenue, which it characterized as a "major 'spyware' distributor." It also settled with some Direct Revenue clients (Priceline, Cingular, and Travelocity).

 The landscape is set to change, however, with antispyware legislation receiving serious consideration by Congress. In late May, the House of Representatives passed the Internet Spyware (I–SPY) Prevention Act of 2007. The bill--a version drastically scaled back from other proposals--tracks in many respects the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Under the bill, a violation occurs when a person causes a program to be copied onto an end user's computer "without authorization" and obtains data or causes a security breach. The controversial portion of the legislation surrounds the so-called good Samaritan exception. In the words of the Internet Alliance, this floor amendment was "designed to grant immunity to antispyware software makers against claims from companies whose programs have been misidentified (and then often deleted) as 'spyware' or 'adware.'" According to the alliance, this provision would have "serious unintended consequences."

Zango's lawsuit
This is exactly what Zango's lawsuit is about. Zango claims that the defendants in each case "mislabeled" Zango software as "an infection...malicious...and as an elevated risk." Zango also claims that end users were not provided with sufficient notice that Zango software would be disabled or purged from the system. (The claims against the two companies vary slightly; in one case, Zango emphasizes blocking the end user's ability to use or access the Zango software, Web sites, and/or content provided via Zango.)

The timing of the lawsuit indicates that Zango is trying to make a point about the grey areas inherent in the antispyware classification business. Indeed, Professor Eric Goldman noted on his blog that the lawsuit "might help shape the contours of antispyware software vendors' duties as well as influence the pending antispyware legislation in Congress." The move is risky for several reasons... More

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