Thursday, April 28, 2005

Spyware Lawsuit by NY AG

Eliot Spitzer has just filed a lawsuit against Intermix Media, according to MSNBC. Spitzer's case is that spyware "foul[s] machines, undermine productivity and in many cases frustrate consumers’ efforts to remove them from their computers. These issues can serve to be a hindrance to the growth of e-commerce." Spitzer's suit also complains that spyware "sometimes" omits uninstall routines. I think companies pushing spyware are scum, but do I really want the government going after them? Where is the legal issue when a piece of software "undermine[s] productivity"? Hell, Outlook and SharpReader undermine the heck of my productivity by making me lose my concentration when new mail or feed posts come in. Know what I do? I myself take action by shutting off SharpReader except for a couple specific times during the day. I ignore new mail and shut off the annyoing "DING!" for its arrival. No uninstall routine available? Check out SpyBot or any of the other free utilities readily available for shooting down spyware. I myself take action to keep my computer in (moderately) good running order. Why do I want a grandstanding Attorney General to get involved with this? Spitzer did a few good things with his suits against mutual fund companies, but I felt much of his other work has been on less solid ground. I have little doubt that his motivation lies mainly with getting his name in lights to futher his political ambitions. I was also peeved that the MSNBC report staff couldn't make more than a very cursory effort to contact anyone from the company, or some "expert" who might express a viewpoint on the other side. Shoddy reporting, that. Rant mode off.


James said...

I have to disagree with you here. I think spyware could be violating a number of very real laws out there, in the areas of false advertising and computer infiltration. Whats makes spyware any different than a virus if they don't ask your permission to install it? Nothing. If they piggy back it in another application and hide it in the EULA, isnt that false advertising or misleading consumers (there are laws to cover both of these)?

Jim Holmes said...

If you approach it from the virus angle, then maybe you've got a point.

Frankly my first reaction was that I think Spitzer, like Sen. Schumer, is more enamored with being in front the camera than getting things done because they need getting done.

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