Spyware Company Sued For Unlawfully Using Computer Resources
from the more-lawsuits-please dept
Unfortunately, when it comes to spyware/adware, there are two separate issues that often get confused. First, is the fact that the spyware is often installed without the user's knowledge or consent and is nearly impossible to remove. Second, is the fact that the application watches what you do, sends it back to a central server tracking info about you and pops up ads competing with sites you're viewing. It's important to separate out these two issues, because if the first issue wasn't there, the second one wouldn't be a problem. If someone wanted their information tracked for the sake of getting targeted ads, that should be up to them (no matter how ridiculous it seems to the rest of us). Unfortunately, though, most of the lawsuits targeting spyware companies have been about the second issue, where other companies are upset that ads are shown over their sites. While the courts don't always agree, many have realized that this practice, by itself, is perfectly legal (and is the same as things like your super market printing out a coupon for a competing product to one you just bought). The real problem is the fact that most of these products are installed without permission or by tricking the user into giving permission without realizing what they're doing. However, according to Broadband Reports, some people have finally filed a class action suit against one of the worst offenders of the sneaky install. The claim is that the company, Direct Revenue (who has a reputation for layer upon layer of dirty tricks despite claiming to be "transparent" with users), is unlawfully using and damaging many computers to make money "while willfully disregarding the computer owners' rights to use and enjoy their personal property." If this case gets anywhere (perhaps a big "if") it could threaten many of the adware companies out there, who all claim transparency, but have been shown repeatedly to use surreptitious installs. Of course, they'll probably all just blame it on their affiliates.