Feeds

Texas puts Sony BMG in its sights

'Illegal spyware'

SANS - Survey on application security programs

The Attorney General for the state of Texas filed a lawsuit against Sony BMG Music Entertainment on Monday, calling the media giant's copy-protection technology "illegal spyware".

The complaint alleges that Sony BMG violated the Texas Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware (CPACS) Act, which includes provisions that punish those who hide software from a computer's owner. The focus of the legal action is a copy-protection program created by software firm First 4 Internet and used by Sony BMG to guard 52 CD titles.

The Extended Copy Protection (XCP) software hides itself and controls basic functions of the Windows operating system - tactics employed by the rootkits commonly used by online attackers. The software was included on some 4.7 million discs produced by Sony BMG, of which about 2.1 million were sold.

"Sony has engaged in a technological version of cloak and dagger deceit against consumers by hiding secret files on their computers," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement. "Consumers who purchased a Sony CD thought they were buying music. Instead, they received spyware that can damage a computer, subject it to viruses and expose the consumer to possible identity crime."

With the lawsuit, Texas becomes the first state in the nation to sue Sony BMG for the company's role in installing the surreptitious copy-protection program on PCs. Following the discovery of the software three weeks ago, security experts, consumers and digital-rights advocates have taken the media giant to task, saying that Sony BMG's software makes computers insecure, does not adequately inform the user as to its function and cannot be uninstalled easily.

Sony BMG did not answer requests for comment on Monday.

At least a half dozen legal actions have already been filed or will be filed in the coming weeks, said sources at the firms involved in the cases. The same day as the Texas lawsuit, two law firms joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights advocacy group, to file a case in California court on Monday.

A lawyer in Los Angeles filed a class action lawsuit against Sony in citing three violations of consumer and business codes. Later that week, Italian digital rights group Associazione per la Libertá nella Comunicazione Elettronica Interattiva (ALCEI) filed a criminal complaint in the country to investigate whether Italian consumers were affected by the Sony BMG cloaking technology. Chicago-based law firm Cirignani Heller Harman & Lynch plans to file a lawsuit against Sony to recover damages caused to consumers by the media giant's copy protection scheme, an attorney with the firm said.

While the functionality and intent of Sony BMG's copy protection are at the heart of the lawsuits, they cases will also test whether consumers can give a company broad permission to install possibly detrimental programs on their systems. Moreover, the media giant constructed a number of hurdles to removing the program, including a privacy-invasive registration and the need to wait for a special identification number.

New York attorney Scott Kamber, who filed a class-action lawsuit against Sony BMG in a U.S. District Court in New York City last week, said that Sony BMG damaged consumers' computer systems with its code.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.