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Lawsuit seeks to tag WGA nagware as spyware

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A US lawsuit has alleged that Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), Microsoft's controversial anti-piracy software, is little better than spyware.

A lawsuit (which seeks class-action status) filed in Washington district court last week also cries foul over false advertising as well as allegations of privacy law violations, Electronista reports. More specifically, the suit alleges that the XP version of WGA was offered to users as a security update rather than as an anti-counterfeiting technology.

WGA phones home to Microsoft daily with IP address and other information on users. The latest lawsuit, like others against WGA before it, takes exception to this behaviour.

The suit further says 'no fair' over the the alleged difficulty of purging the technology once it gets installed, behaviour that the latest complaint against WGA likens to that of spyware.

At least two lawsuits citing similar concerns about WGA were launched in 2006. Neither has come to anything as yet, and Microsoft has bundled modified versions of the technology within both Vista and Windows 7.

Also, since early 2007, Microsoft began offering Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) as an anti-piracy tool for Office productivity suite products.

Online validation using either WGA or OGA is normally needed to allow downloads of security updates or access to add-ons from Microsoft. As well as the accusations of invading the privacy of users, WGA has been criticised over allegedly high false positive rates (where genuine copies of Windows are flagged up as counterfeit). ®

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