Zango unsuccessful in suits against anti-spyware companies

Posted on September 5, 2007 - 15:25 by egeorge

Adware company Zango has recently struck out in its lawsuits against two anti-spyware software vendors. Zango had used the suits to challenge makers of security software that labeled its products as spyware.

Zango’s suit against PC Tools was dropped last week. Zango’s corporate blog refers to the decision as a result of PC Tools’ modification of its software to warn against Zango software rather than automatically remove it. PC Tools, however, says it modified its software before Zango’s suit was ever filed, and hails Zango’s decision to drop the suit as a vindication.

One day later, a federal judge ruled against Zango in a similar case, this time against Kaspersky Lab. The ruling found that the federal Communications Decency Act, Section 230(c )(2), creates a “safe harbor†for producers of tools used to filter “objectionable content.†The judge noted that in the context of the safe harbor provision, objectionable content is not limited to content that is actually objectionable, but includes material that users and software providers consider to be objectionable. The court granted summary judgment for Kaspersky, effectively ending the case.

In affirming the rights of security software vendors to classify applications based on the vendors’ own guidelines, the Kaspersky ruling sends a clear message that software producers cannot use lawsuits or the threat of lawsuits to challenge security vendors’ decisions.

More debate over anti-spyware laws

Posted on July 2, 2007 - 13:23 by egeorge

Debate over several proposed U.S. federal anti-spyware laws continued at the Anti-Spyware Coalition conference last week at Harvard. In a panel on public policy moderated by StopBadware's own John Palfrey, panelists from the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Federal Trade Commission disagreed on the best way forward for legislation that combats spyware.

The three potential bills at stake are the I-Spy Act and the Spy Act, both recently passed in the House, and the Counter Spy Act, recently re-introduced in the Senate after failing to pass in previous sessions. Ari Schwartz, deputy director of the CDT, said that the CDT supports all three bills, on the principle that any further clarification of the illegality of spyware is a good thing. Tracy Shapiro, an attorney at the FTC, said that the FTC feels it already has enough legal power at its disposal and that further legislation might actually cause confusion.

InfoWorld highlights the debate in an article here. You can also read more about the I-Spy and Spy acts in earlier StopBadware blog posts here.