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AOL hit by second class action

More accusations about AOL 5.0 software

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America Online is facing yet more legal pressure over the alleged debilitating effects of its AOL 5.0 software. Seattle attorney, Steve Berman, filed a class action lawsuit against AOL yesterday in King County Superior Court, Washington state. Berman -- who has led similar actions against tobacco companies and the Exxon Valdez oil spill -- filed the lawsuit on behalf of Washington state residents under the Consumer Protection Act. The class action alleges that America Online "knowingly released a version of their software that, without warning, made major changes to users' computer operating systems rendering them unstable, and in some cases, inoperable." The suit also claims that AOL effectively barred their customers from connecting with competing ISPs. "Users who installed AOL 5.0 expected that they were going to get 500 free hours of faster, better Internet access," said Berman. "But what really happened was that their computers were unknowingly sabotaged so that they could no longer use any Internet service other than AOL. This was a brazen attempt by AOL to hold these customers hostage as long as they wanted to connect to the Internet," he said. According to Berman, AOL 5.0 is perhaps the "most insidious way the company could force consumers to use AOL". "Once the software was up and running, it changes so many of the systems configurations, the average user had no hope of connecting with anyone else other than AOL. Many who tried to unwind the installation found that it was almost impossible since it affected more than 200 files." Earlier this month Internet lawyer Kenneth Yates, filed a class action on behalf of eight million AOL users claiming that AOL 5.0 disables other ISP services when installed on a PC. Back then AOL spokesman, Rich D'Amato, said that the lawsuit had "no basis in fact or law." ® Related stories: AOL scoffs at class action

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