Microsoft Sued Over WGA Program

Microsoft is the target of a class action lawsuit after a California man sued the company over violations of spyware statutes for its Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy program. The suit was filed Monday in a U.S. District Court in Seattle.

The case revolves around the WGA Notifications component, which was rolled out last November in a pilot phase, and officially launched worldwide earlier this week. The feature originally had a "phone home" functionality that caused computers to connect with Microsoft servers each day and check for updated configuration files.

Privacy advocates criticized Microsoft's methods, and the company removed the configuration check on Tuesday. However, the update was delivered after Los Angeles resident Brian Johnson filed his suit.

In the court filing, he says that Microsoft's methods were a violation of both the spyware laws of his home state, as well as Washington, where the Redmond company is headquartered. Those laws call for a notification process where the user is to be alerted of such features.

The suit does not ask for monetary damages, only an injunction to prevent the use of the feature in future releases. If Microsoft is indeed found guilty, however, it could be held liable for fines as per each state's statutes.

To its defense, Microsoft denied Johnson's claims, calling them a distortion of the purposes of WGA. A spokesperson said the company continues to modify the program based on the feedback from customers.

Lawyers for Johnson said the man is not interested in any notoriety for filing the suit, but simply a more clearer disclosure of Microsoft's objectives with the WGA program. Johnson himself has not publicly commented on the suit.

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