Microsoft is facing a class action suit over a tool that gathers data on a user’s computer in an effort to detect bootlegged copies of its Windows operating system. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, concerns Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), an antipiracy tool the company introduced in July 2005. The WGA program collects hardware and software data, delivering it to Microsoft servers. The stored information is then used to warn of possible piracy violations. |
The lawsuit alleges the program violates consumer protection laws in California and Washington state, and laws against spyware, invasive programs that collect data.
The lawsuit against Microsoft contends the company mislead users in delivering WGA to computers, masking it under batches of monthly updates that often include critical security patches. It asks Microsoft to delete all data collected by WGA and provide users with the ability to remove the software from their computers, in addition to damages.
"In truth and in fact, Microsoft, in its efforts to maximize revenue through antipiracy measures, mislead consumers and the public as to the true nature, functionality and operation of its WGA," the suit said.
In response to user complaints, Microsoft released a new version of WGA this week allowing people to opt out of notifications. The update also changes the frequency with which the program contacts Microsoft to check the validity of Windows.
Users have also complained the software is buggy, labeling copies of Windows as counterfeits when the license may have been legitimately transferred to a different piece of hardware.
The lawsuit seeks to represent any person that installed Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage.