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Company Charged For Violating Computer Spyware Law, Settles Suit

A company has settled a lawsuit filed against it by Washington State's attorney general, Rob McKenna for selling phony anti-spyware tools. The New York-based 'Secure Computer' said it was ready to pay $1million to settle charges for violating the 'computer spyware law' of Washington, according to the attorney general's office in a statement on December 4, 2006.

The suite alleged that 'Secure Computer' impelled its 'security software' on consumers through several misleading methods. The company executed sites that offered 'free spyware scans', which actually yielded fake results. The sites told users that their systems were infected with spyware, even if the PC was clean.

'Secure Computer' coerced customers through pop-up ads that looked similar to 'Windows system alerts' on several thousand Websites. When users went to anyone of those sites, a window would pop up saying that the system had spyware in it.

Paula Selis, senior council with the attorney general's office said that 'Secure Computer' and its president, Paul Burke, would have to pay legal fees of $725,000 and penalties of $200,000. In addition the company would have to reimburse customers of Washington State by $75,000. Selis remarked that as per the defendants' range of practices and harm it has caused to customers, the settlement was fair enough.

More than 1,140 residents in Washington bought the company's 'Spyware Cleaner software' or sometimes 'Pop-Up Padlock'. All that would be refunded under the agreement. The purchasers of the product would receive information about the refunds through e-mail from 'Secure Computer'.

As explained by McKenna, this settlement is a notable victory for the Attorney General's Consumer Protection High-Tech Unit, Washington consumers, and the online market. It is a prominent message to Internet businesses that they must use only ethical and legal means to campaign their products. There would be no toleration of deceptive marketing such as 'scare-ware' that exploits consumers' apprehensions about spyware and online threats.

After suing 'Secure Computer' and four of its business partners in January 2006, charges against three of them have been settled. The fourth man, Manoj Kumar from Maharashtra, India was untraceable, said attorney general's office.

Related article: Companies Should Report Cybercrime

» SPAMfighter News - 12/8/2006

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