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Spy vs. Spy
Written by Daniel   
Monday, 17 September 2007 10:16
Microsoft sued over WGA spyware allegations in China

By Ken Fisher | Published: September 16, 2007 - 10:35PM CT
ARS Technica
Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage woes aren't likely to end any time soon. Soon after a global WGA failure caused by human error comes word that a privacy suit has been brought against the company in China over alleged WGA behavior. This joins similar suits in the US that have described WGA as "spyware." Lu Feng, a student at Beijing University, is asking for compensation and a reversal of practices from the Redmond giant, saying that WGA's analytical methods are akin to snooping technologies. The First Intermediate People's Court of Beijing has accepted the case for review, but this is not a sign of its technical merits. Nevertheless, Feng will get his day in court.

According to scattered reports, some of which are contradictory, Lu Feng first installed WGA on his Windows XP computer before realizing what it was. Feng believes that Microsoft failed to provide him with proper notice of WGA's capabilities or how it would affect his use of his computer. Furthermore, Feng objects to the click-through software EULA, to which he had to agree before even installing the software.

Feng's complaint asserts that WGA monitors his computer usage closely enough to constitute a privacy violation. Microsoft has long insisted that WGA does not invade privacy and only monitors what is necessary to prevent unauthorized modifications to anti-piracy tools in Windows. WGA does monitor hardware changes to the system, though, but it is unclear how this would constitute a privacy violation in and of itself, in either US or Chinese law.... More    Comment in the Forums

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