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F & F


Deleting Spyware: A Criminal Act?
posted by scubacuda on Tuesday June 07, @02:55PM
from the dept.
Criminal Law This Register article explores the idea of illegally deletion of spyware or spam via automated spam/spyware removal tools. From the article:
Once I receive the benefit of the contract I have entered into (the P2P software, the screensaver, etc.) suppose I then download and install a spyware remover, which either automatically or at my request removes the portion of the program which is of benefit to the software distributor. Thus, I get the benefit of the program without adhering to the other part of the contract....

The problem is worse for anti-spyware programs, which essentially automate the process of breaching consumer contracts. This is assuming that the consumers actually agreed to the terms and conditions under which the spyware was installed - generally not a valid assumption. Essentially, the spyware distributors would argue that the anti-spyware purveyors are inducing their customers to breach their contractual obligations, and are tortuously interfering with their contractual relationships with those who knowingly downloaded the spyware.

Spam busters go on the offensive | Code theft, License Agreements  >


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    Deleting Spyware: A Criminal Act? | Login/Create an Account | Top | 3 comments | Search Discussion
    The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
    IANAL, but. my though is.. Betamax (Score:1)
    by darkonc on Saturday June 11, @05:31PM (#1683)
    User #463 Info
    Generally, I'd look to the Betamax case on this.
    The anti-spyware providers are providing a tool that has generally legal and beneficial results. They also have no real direct control over how a user uses it. If a user is properly terminating their contract, then they should (and I presume do) have the the right to remove the associated software. If they use it for nasty stuff, then I'd say that that's between the user and the spyware company.

    For an even less sympathetic case, you can look at gun manufacturers....

    In most cases, spyware manufacturers use misleading methods to get consumers to 'agree' to their contracts, so there's a good deal of room to argue about whether or not a proper 'meeting of the mines' occured in any instance between them and the victim of their software.

    Re:IANAL, but. my though is.. Betamax (Score:1)
    by rhester on Monday October 17, @03:07PM (#1704)
    User #1137 Info
    So by committing to that thesis, you must also commit to the legality of p2p software which generally, unfortunately, has been ruled *illegal*

    I would argue that Anti-spyware providers are, on the whole, giving the end user a service which does AIM at *blindly* removing spyware.

    "Blindly" is the key. If you have had a chance to examine the major anti-spyware programs, you would know that most have a user-reporting tool. This tool is used to determine what is and what is not to be classified as spyware. I believe that it works somewhat like a virtual vote.

    Following from this, you ought to look at cases where _______ providers give a)conditions for acceptable use and b) steps aimed at preventing illegal useage

    The courts decided that b) entailed for p2p programs the necessary inclusion of a filtering mechanism

    Agree or not, the (whatever number it is: i am Canadian) X-day waiting period on guns, the age restriction, and safty-lock mechanisms (some suggest finger-print ID req's) are all meant to prevent the wrong sort of usage.

    Furthermore, even in the Betamax case, there was nothing past an implicit suggestion in mechanical capabilities that you *could* use it for illegal use. There is absolutely *no* condoning going on here. Where the Betamax camp said: "here is our new recording product; we can't stop you from recording illegally", the anti-spyware camp says "here is our spyware removing product; you should use it because it is *the best program at removing spyware*: if you want to remove spyware, use our program it will get the job done!"

    I believe that those two statements are quite different specifically on a legal interpretation: the anti-spyware programs *promote* *explicitly* the users-of to breach contracts.
    Small Print - Loads (Score:0)
    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 19, @08:02AM (#1701)
    The trouble with this - and triable in court - is the copious amount of small print - it takes a day to read through some of it ROiWeb Inc. [roiweb.biz].

    Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition. - Isaac Asimov

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