Lawsuit calls Microsoft's anti-piracy tool spyware

A computer user is suing Microsoft Corp. over the company's Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy tool, alleging that it violates laws against spyware.

The suit by Los Angeles resident Brian Johnson, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Seattle, seeks class-action status for claims that Microsoft didn't adequately disclose details of the tool when it was delivered to PC users through the company's Automatic Update system.

Windows Genuine Advantage is designed to check the validity of a computer user's copy of the operating system. But the tool became a subject of heightened controversy earlier this month, after PC users began noticing that it was making daily contact with Microsoft's servers without their knowledge, even if their software was valid.

A Microsoft spokesman, Jim Desler, called the suit "baseless" and disputed the characterization of the tool as spyware. "Spyware is deceptive software that is installed on a user's computer without the user's consent and has some malicious purpose," Desler said. Windows Genuine Advantage "is installed with the consent of the user and seeks only to notify the user if a proper license is not in place."

The lead lawyer representing Johnson in the suit against Microsoft, Scott Kamber of Kamber & Associates LLC in New York, was co-lead counsel for consumers in the lawsuit over Sony Corp.'s surreptitious placement of copy-protection "rootkit" software on PCs, through music CDs. That software, designed to prevent music from being copied illegally, disabled protections against viruses and spyware, potentially leaving unaware computer users vulnerable. Sony settled the suit.


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This is going no where. To call it spyware would mean it would have to send personal information, thus spying on you in some form or other. All this does is connect to the master server and check for a status update.

Quote - CaKeY said @ #1.2
If you have a legit copy why does it need to phone home everyday?

Does no one know anything about the reason? It phones home to check whether or not it should turn itself off. If MS releases an update that conflicts with WGA, they can use thisphone home to disable WGA, thus allowing legit users to continue to use their system without issue.

Quote - phantasmorph said @ #1.5
It transmits your CD Key and IP address to Microsoft, effectively telling them who you are. It deletes all System Restore points prior to its install so that the system cannot be rolled back in the event the system doesn't pass validation.

Some seem to want to sit here and clap like a trained seal for this thing, and they can go ahead, since they don't see to understand fully what it does. But don't knock others for being wary over something like this considering the track record Microsoft has for screwing things up.


It does not trasmit your CD key during the daily phone homes that people are complaining about. As for the IP address, of course. Your IP is sent to any server you ever connect to on the internet. This would be no different.

Trained seals? More like someone with common sense who tends to be a little less paranoid.

Quote - MrCobra said @ #1.8

There's a key in the registry that contains a hash of your cd key. That hash IS sent and checked against a database. That little item IS your cd key. Saying that your key is not sent is not valid. If it weren't then Microsoft wouldn't know if any particular copy of XP was genuine or not.

So, with the cd key hash and an IP being sent to the servers, personal identifiable information is sent. There are no two ways around it.


Jesus Christ people don't listen or comprehend. The key is NOT SENT during the daily phone home process. Of course it's sent when you validate your install before updating your system, but the phone home process does not include the sending of any information.