Texas Sues Sony BMG Over CD Rootkit

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced Monday that he has filed suit against Sony BMG over the use of illegal spyware in its copy-protection mechanism that gained national attention earlier this month.

Abbott also disputed Sony's claims that it had recalled all affected CDs, saying investigators were able to purchase "numerous titles at Austin retail stores as recently as Sunday evening."

The lawsuit notes that Sony's software uses a rootkit "cloaking" technique to hide itself from users and prevent its removal. Abbott says the DRM remains active at all times, even when Sony's media player is not active, which has led to concerns about its true purpose.

"Sony has engaged in a technological version of cloak and dagger deceit against consumers by hiding secret files on their computers," Attorney General Abbott said in a statement. He also highlighted the security concerns brought about by the rootkit.

"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."

Since its discovery in late October, news of the rootkit has spiraled out of control, with consumers and artists alike angry at the revelation. In an apology issued last week, Sony said it "deeply regrets any inconvenience to our customers."

But that hasn't stopped lawsuits stemming from consumers' outrage, nor accusations of collusion between security companies and Sony. Texas becomes the first state to sue over Sony's tactics. Consumer lawsuits have been filed in California and New York as well.

Under Texas' Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act of 2005, Abbott is seeking civil penalties of $100,000 for each violation of the law, attorneys' fees and investigative costs.

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