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Anti-Spyware Law Snags Anti-Spyware Vendor

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the guess-their-product-wasn't-very-good dept.

138

Country Lawyer writes "Washington state's anti-spyware law has just resulted in a $1 million victory for the state, the first successful prosecution under the new law. The weird thing? They sued an anti-spyware vendor." From the article: "Washington State went after the company after 1,145 state residents purchased the software and the complaints began rolling in. Secure Computer president Paul Burke will now pay $200,000 in penalties, make $75,000 worth of restitution to Washington residents, and pay another $725,000 to cover the state's attorneys' fees. The irony of an anti-spyware law being used against an anti-spyware vendor was not commented upon."

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BS (5, Insightful)

cwells (58526) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148916)

"$725,000 to cover the state's attorneys' fees"

that's just insane!

Re:BS (1)

HiChris! (999553) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148988)

These guys were con artists and should be fined severely, but couldn't more of that money have gone to the people who were duped? Then again the people who wrote the law were probably lawyers and needed to make sure they could have something to gain.

Re:BS (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149308)

These guys were con artists and should be fined severely, but couldn't more of that money have gone to the people who were duped? Then again the people who wrote the law were probably lawyers and needed to make sure they could have something to gain.

The lawyers in this case were the Washington State Attorney General's office. In other words, by goin to the lawyers, the money is going into the State of Washingtons coffers, and helps to lower taxes, benifiting the people who were duped.

Re:BS (1)

enosys (705759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149572)

That would spread the benefit over the entire state. Don't those people who were duped deserve more than someone unrelated to the whole affair? I think that someone who was tricked into buying a useless product using false and alarmist marketing deserves something more than a refund.

Re:BS (2, Interesting)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149672)

In that case, it's the law that needs to be changed. Currently, it appears that it only severes to get your money back+ some small ammount. If they want damages, I guess there is small claims court. Laws haven't exactly caught up to the computer age, or the domino effect that a crazy computer program can cause on a system (computer or otherwise).

Re:BS (1)

plantman-the-womb-st (776722) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150746)

In other words, by goin to the lawyers, the money is going into the State of Washingtons coffers, and helps to lower taxes, benifiting the people who were duped.
Ah, that's why are state taxes are being raised. Good to know.

Re:BS (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150890)

The lawyers in this case were the Washington State Attorney General's office. In other words, by goin to the lawyers, the money is going into the State of Washingtons coffers, and helps to lower taxes, benifiting the people who were duped.

If these are attorneys' fees, they're going straight to the AG staff's salaries - that's how they'd be determined - what makes you think there's a surplus going into the general revenue fund?

Re:BS (2, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151002)

Yeah, that's not where the money is likely to go and no one ever sees a decrease in their tax rate just because some large fines and penalties are to be collected. I have yet to see a letter in the mail saying "good news! you don't have to pay as much tax this year because we sued a bunch of jerks!"

I have learned a lot about taxes and the public's misconception of them... especially where federal taxes are concerned. For every expense that the government makes, there's supposed to be a tax that takes care of it. Gasoline tax pays for one thing, cigarette taxes pays another thing. Your voluntary personal income tax pays the interest on the federal debt to the Federal Reserve corporation... that sort of thing. As to the state level taxes? I guess it'll vary by state, but the statement about lowering taxes is completely bogus.

Re:BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149010)

"$725,000 to cover the state's attorneys' fees"

that's just insane!


Absolutely. Lawyers have no right to be paid for their work.

Re:BS (5, Funny)

Loco Moped (996883) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149056)

Absolutely. Lawyers have no right to be paid for their work.

When's the last time we paid sharks for eating swimmers?
Same principle applies.

Re:BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149174)

The difference between a lawyer and a Mobster is that lawyers are afraid of getting blood on their suits.

Re:BS (3, Funny)

LordEd (840443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149242)

Actually, the difference is the lawyers bill you for the suit, the soap and water to clean it, and the time.

Re:BS (3, Funny)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149788)

The difference between a lawyer and a Mobster is that lawyers are afraid of getting blood on their suits.
I always thought the difference was that mobsters have a code of ethics.

We know who won. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149040)

US: 0
THEM: -1
LAWYERS: 1
 

Re:We know who won. (1)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149200)

I'm sure that some of "US" are lawyers or work for anti-spyware companies. What exactly is your point? I hate all this US/THEM crap. It just dehumanizes one group to justify the opinion of the other.

Re:We know who won. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149620)

What? That's the best way to do it!

When you bill 25 hours a day, 8 days a week .... (3, Funny)

wsanders (114993) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149674)

... 459 days per year the hours add up pretty quickly.

how do they justify $750,000 worth of "work?" (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149690)

I dont get it. These people arent doctors, and filing a case against someone who is clearly breaking the law is a no brainer. Lawyers should make no more than $50 an hour.. And class action lawsuits never benefit the ones they are intended for. The Cum guzzling lawyers seep ever last sap of money for themselfs leaving the the rest of the people a $40 rebate somewhere..

please type the word in this image: Incest

Why is slashdot making me type incest?

How do you justify a rate cap? (5, Insightful)

Presence1 (524732) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151066)

There may be abuses, overcharges, and skewed payouts, but saying the nobody of some profession should ever earn more than $X per hour is absurd.

What you say is equivalent to some PHB saying that no programmer or system designer should ever earn more than $50 per hour.

In fact, some should earn much less, and some much more. Hourly rates are really just a shorthand in the capitalist system for how quickly you generate value.

I've got considerable experience in software and corp management, and so often had to deal with lawyers, mostly on IP and contract issues. As I worked with them, I was intrigued to find out how much the work resembled software development. In both arenas, one needs to evaluate the scope of the project, anticipate the opportunities, obstacles, and pitfalls, then design a structure that will handle all these cases. Once a overall plan and structure is selected, then the detailed modules or sections are crafted using custom code or language where necessary, and reusing pre-tested code or language where possible. SW Developers use the languages chosen for the project, and Lawyers use the English language and Terms of Art. Both professions have barely competent people at the bottom and utterly brialliant people at the top. Both have utter scumbags who should be shot on sight (spammers, spyware, or scammers), and others whose wisdom is a national treasure. Both professions have trivial problems handled mostly by cut-and-paste, and incredibly complex problems.

When given an interesting problem in their domain, the lower ones will take almost forever to come up with a bad answer, and the top ones will give a great answer almost off the top of their heads. This is what makes the good ones worth FAR more than the average, and the average ones worth more than amaterus on the street.

While its seems an odd ratio... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149822)

...remember that one reason that laws like this create a state right of action on behalf of the victims is because they address cases where the cost of litigation is prohibitive for private plaintiffs given the uncertainty of success and the work required to make the case and the small amount of damages, but when claims are aggregated, even though it is still expensive to litigate. Aggregating the claims mitigates somewhat the imbalance between the cost of litigation and the available damages, but often not that much; what it mainly does is make the action more tenable because the probability of success on some significant number of the claims becomes greater, and by making the claim viable at all increases the deterrent to wrongdoers.

Anyway, $725,000 in attorneys' fees is a lot less than 1,145 plaintiffs suing on their own would probably have to pay.

Actually, not insane (3, Informative)

Presence1 (524732) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150266)

Assume a billable rate of $150 per hour, which is more than the average general practice firm charges, but far less than the $300+ that big city specialist firms charge for their most experienced people. At the $150 rate, it takes only 4834 billable hours to to get to $725K, and that is excluding expenses (expert witnesses, courier services, etc.).

With 2000 work hours per year, that is less than three attnys full time for a year. With a case that complicated, and testing a new law (so they REALLY want to get it right to set the good prescedent), this doesn't seem unreasonable.

Of course, I'm sure he doesn't get a discount, or get to nit-pick the bill either.

So the lawyers fees are more than the penalty (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148928)

Sometimes I think it would be best to have less laws if only to keep lawyers from getting all the money.

Yes I know its a government entity but I bet there are many "consultants" on that list that are not as well.

I don't think lawyers, singular or as a corporation, should ever get more than the reward.

It isn't that much (3, Informative)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149068)

7 lawyers making $100/hour working about 6 months (40 hours workweeks, no overtime) would account for it.

Not to mention their legal staff. Evidence aquisition. Etc. Should they have sought a larger penalty? Sure. But don't underpay the lawyers just because the penalty is low.

Re:It isn't that much (1)

iocat (572367) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149220)

The point of the law isn't to create a lottery system for retards who download/are infected with spyware. The point is to make it too expensive for spyware companies to do business in WA state. The victims get made whole (at least) and the company pays a lot. I'd much rather fund future enforcement with penalties and legal fees than tax dollars -- let the spyware guys pay the lawyers so they can go after the next offenders.

Re:It isn't that much (1)

TrekkieGod (627867) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150046)

7 lawyers making $100/hour working about 6 months (40 hours workweeks, no overtime) would account for it.

Leaving aside the argument that $100/hour might be too high to start with...

Seven lawyers for a single case? Seven lawyers working exclusively for that case? Their entire 40 hour workweeks for 6 months on that one case??

Re:It isn't that much (1)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150262)

I used to work for a court reporting firm. We would charge upwards on $3.00/hr for original deposition transcripts, and that price doubles if they need it in a hurry. This is for what basically amounts to a photocopy. I have seen some bills in the thousands for transcripts of a single witness. Not all of the fees are profits for the lawyers.

Re:It isn't that much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17150268)

7 lawyers making $100/hour working about 6 months (40 hours workweeks, no overtime) would account for it.

Not to mention their legal staff. Evidence aquisition. Etc. Should they have sought a larger penalty? Sure. But don't underpay the lawyers just because the penalty is low.


I think the 100 bucks in hour is what bothers people, stud.

Re:It isn't that much (2, Informative)

dcw3 (649211) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150874)

7 lawyers making $100/hour working about 6 months (40 hours workweeks, no overtime) would account for it.

For those of you questioning the parents $100/hr. number, you've probably never been to an attorney. My divorce lawyer was billing $150/hr. ten years ago. Shit, my company bills more than that for my time, and I'm not getting anywhere near that. You need to realize that the figure isn't necessarily what the person is making, but what the firm charges. Wrapped into that figure are all the overhead charges that go along with running a business...cost of the office, electricity, phone bill, advertising, paying the staff, etc., etc.

It couldn't have happened to nicer people??? (5, Informative)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148930)

FTFA: "The dubious marketing tactics did not end there. Secure Computer also sold its product using pop-up ads which warned users that their computers might be infected with spyware, and it offered them a free system scan. The results of the scan were invariably positive. "Our investigation found that this so-called free scan always detected spyware, even on a clean computer," said Senior Counsel Paula Selis, who led the state investigation. "In order to remove this falsely detected spyware, users were instructed to pay $49.95 for the full version of Spyware Cleaner." It is illegal under Washington law to "induce a computer user to download software by falsely claiming the software is necessary for security purposes," she added."

I was kind of tired of seeing stuff like they used....

Non-windows operating systems (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149270)

My favorites are the ones that references DLL's or windows-specific conditions, and sometimes manage to pop-up on my linux system. Any chance civilians could sue 'em for false advertising?

Re:Non-windows operating systems (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150154)

Better yet, the ones with a suposed security warning from Internet Explorer... when I'm running firefox.

Anyone remember this one? (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150312)

My favorites are the ones that references DLL's or windows-specific conditions, and sometimes manage to pop-up on my linux system.

One side effect of running Linux is that the fake dialogs are virtually guaranteed to not match your actual UI, whether they're imitating Luna, Windows Classic, or Mac OS X. Heck, I sometimes see Mac Classic style fake dialogs. Mostly in banners, though, since there are very few sites I visit that manage to get their pop-ups past Firefox these days, and I only block ads that are actively annoying. (Pop-ups are, by their very nature, actively annoying.)

My favorite is still "Your computer is broadcasting an IP address!"

Re:It couldn't have happened to nicer people??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17150104)

It is illegal under Washington law to "induce a computer user to download software by falsely claiming the software is necessary for security purposes," she added."


So Microsoft should be sued for forcing users to download IE7 saying it is a "critical security update".

Re:It couldn't have happened to nicer people??? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17150164)

..."induce a computer user to download software by falsely claiming the software is necessary for security purposes,"...

You mean like MS WGA that was pushed as security update ?

Misleading... (5, Informative)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148942)

These guys used bullshit popups in web browsers to convince people they needed to buy an Anti-Spyware product. Go get'em Washington.

it's warranted.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17148950)

...in my opinion. after reading the article, it looks like they were using tactics like spyware.

Just because you get rid of spyware doesn't give you the right to BE spyware...

change to 'a corrupt company anti-spyware vendor' (4, Insightful)

ghostlibrary (450718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148960)

I think the 'lack of irony' is that the supposed anti-spyware company was itself corrupt. "The company allegedly spammed", did fake scans then informed customers they needed to buy the product ("Our investigation found that this so-called free scan always detected spyware, even on a clean computer,"), broke their own consent agreement, used shaddy sales tactics, etc.

So, oddly enough, it seems the law worked. Just calling yourself an 'anti-spyware vendor' is no protection from being a spyware company.

Re:change to 'a corrupt company anti-spyware vendo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149028)

used shaddy sales tactics

That's the same as fishy sales tactics.

Re:change to 'a corrupt company anti-spyware vendo (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149058)

Except, your hiding under a tree, vs using a line and bait.

Re:change to 'a corrupt company anti-spyware vendo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149250)

WOOOSH

But did it really work? (3, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149060)

We know that they paid a total of $1 million in penalties.

But how much in profits did they make?

If they made $2 million in profits, then the law didn't work at all.

Re:But did it really work? (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149300)

This was Washington State only. If there are $1 million in profits remaining, it is up to other states to go after these guys if their respective laws permit it.

Re:But did it really work? (1)

gt_mattex (1016103) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149412)

FTA

Secure Computer is actually based in New York, and has gone out of business since the lawsuit was filed.

I think it worked well enough.

Re:But did it really work? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149540)

FTA

Secure Computer is actually based in New York, and has gone out of business since the lawsuit was filed.

I think it worked well enough.

That doesn't mean the owners didn't take all the remaining money and are laughing all the way to the bank and enjoying their retirement. Closing it down would be a logical thing for them to do under the circumstances, since the company would now be more likely to have its assets exposed to lawsuits from other states.

Re:But did it really work? (2, Insightful)

louisadkins (963165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149790)

Ah, but did they re-open under a different name? I've seen that happen more than once. Scammer declares under the first business, closes the doors, and are protected. Then they open under a new name, as a new business. This makes it much harder to go after them as it was, technically, the first business that scammed. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

Re:But did it really work? (1)

Brushfireb (635997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151586)

Sure, but that just makes the victory pot sweeter, and then you can also likely apply criminal proceedings. If someone is knowingly, willfully trying to avoid a law, oftentimes you can get triple damages.

So... If you see this, report it, and let them know about the pattern. When you form a company, someone real has to be the agent for the company. So if that person starts, closes, starts, closes, a chain of businesses, it shouldnt be terribly hard to track, especially if you consider where they put their money (BANKS).

Triple Damages are sweet.

B

No. It was spyware (4, Insightful)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148986)

It passed itself off as anti-spyware, but actually caused problems for users that installed it, was sold by spamming, etc., etc., etc.

A good precedent (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148992)

I am overjoyed to see this precedent established. I am not a lawyer, but I think this ruling can only help other cases, even in other states.

Re:A good precedent (1)

TheNicestGuy (1035854) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149914)

If other states have laws comparable to Washington's, or if a federal law is enacted, yes. From a quick glance at Ben Edelman's State Spyware Legislation page [benedelman.org] , it looks like most states have something, but a lack of consistency could gum up the use of out-of-state precedents.

One little thing you missed..... (4, Informative)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149994)

It was NOT a ruling, it was a settlement. HUGE difference. The most important is that no "precedence" has been set. What that basically means is that this case cannot be used in the future to help in the prosecution of other offenders.

Is it a beginning? Yes. Does it move us closer to being able to prosecute others? No.

While I applaude the state of Washington on bringing charges in the first place, I think that they did the people of the state a disservice by settling. It seemed they had a pretty solid case yet caved at the last moment.

I suspect that what happened is that someone decided that in order to collect ANY funds from the company, they had to settle. Otherwise, the defendants attorneys would have "used" up all the funds in an effort to defend the company leaving none for the "fines".

Attorneys have been known to obfuscate, delay and appeal cases all in the name of extending their own value, and thus, their fees.

Re:One little thing you missed..... (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150370)

See? An obvious sign I am not a lawyer. I completely mixed up the settlement/ruling thing. Okay, so no ruling, no precedent. If not in the courts, maybe this will create 'mind share' of the idea that, yes, my dear Scarlet, the government does give a damn and will attempt to prosecute you.

Re:One little thing you missed..... (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150600)

I have to admit that regardless of whether or not it set precedence, the outcome was still good. The miscreants that posed as being something beneficial were, in the end, fined pretty heavily.
Hopefully the financial losses were sufficient enough that they will think twice before doing something similar.

That being said, it doesn't really matter that most of the money involved ended up in the pockets of lawyers. As long as it hurt the perps, it was worth the effort.

I can fix that for you... (5, Insightful)

MyNymWasTaken (879908) | more than 7 years ago | (#17148994)

This is not a story of an innocent company harmed by a stupid & malevolent government. The company is the equivalent of a glass window replacer who advertises their services by throwing a brick with their flyer wrapped around it through prospective client's windows.

RTFA! No Irony Ahead (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149016)

They spammed and pop-up advertised with no opt-out.

They made false claims as to a limited time offer.

They provided free scans that resulted in a false-positives.

They offered upgrades to a "pro" version of a product that was essentially the same as already purchased.

Say what you want about over-regulation, but these guys seemed a perfect target for these type laws. Has nothing to do with their supposed status as anti-spyware vendor.

Re:RTFA! No Irony Ahead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149746)

"They spammed and pop-up advertised with no opt-out."

"They made false claims as to a limited time offer."

"They provided free scans that resulted in a false-positives."

"They offered upgrades to a "pro" version of a product that was essentially the same as already purchased."

"Say what you want about over-regulation, but these guys seemed a perfect target for these type laws."
Oh, kind of like Vista

Re:RTFA! No Irony Ahead (2, Funny)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150064)

They made false claims as to a limited time offer.

Hmmm .. it appears that the offer is no longer available. It seems to have had a limit.

Just not the limit that the company intended ;-)

Penalties and Lawyers Fees? (1)

SuperStretchy (1018064) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149024)

So basically Washington gets $925,000, while the people actually affected by this have to split $70k. Thats a bit money-grubbing for me. That covers about 1400 people that were actually dumb enough to buy the spyware. This is just my opinion, but I think a lot more people than that actually bought it. They can then reinvest that $50 back into Gator.

Rouge anti-spyware (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149026)

Note, this is not an anti-spyware vendor who have got used. It is an so called "rouge anti-spyware" vendor. Rouge anti-spyware software is often distributed along with spyware. The rouge antispyware then tells you to buy it to get rid of spyware. It also popups on websites and misleads you into buying their software.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogue_software [wikipedia.org]

$750000. Damn, they some blood sucking lawyers!

Re:Rouge anti-spyware (3, Funny)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149130)

Yeah, they're really red faced after this court loss

Re:Rouge anti-spyware (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149882)

Or maybe it's a communist plot!

A communist plot to bilk people out of money.

Through capitalism.

OK, maybe not.

Um... maybe from a red state?

No, New York and Washington.

Hmm... maybe their marketing people wear make-up?

Re:Rouge anti-spyware (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150588)

I was cyan after I red this, but now I'm a green with him.

Anti-spyware company? (1)

darkmayo (251580) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149042)

The practices of this company to sucker in people to buy there software is highly dubious.

When you use spy-ware, malware to create a problem just so you can sell your product, you deserve to get smacked as hard as the law can allow (imo), how it is ironic when the company probably produced more spyware then it stopped.

Anti-spyware vendor... (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149050)

that, as briefly discussed in the article:
- spams without opt-out
- offered fake discounts
- had deceptive popups, offering a free scan, that always, in every machine, report that the user had spyware.

Re:Anti-spyware vendor... (2, Funny)

Loco Moped (996883) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149184)

- had deceptive popups, offering a free scan, that always, in every machine, report that the user had spyware. Well, by the time you downloaded and ran the scan, you certainly did have spyware. So I guess it was telling the truth.

Left out of article summary (4, Informative)

griffjon (14945) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149064)

The irony of going after a spyware vendor ends once you discover that they're spamming lying scum:

"...their "Spyware Cleaner" product had, well, a couple of flaws: it didn't work well, it deleted a user's Hosts file after installation, and it tried to convince users to "upgrade" to another program that did essentially the same thing.

But it was the way that Spyware Cleaner was marketed that attracted the Attorney General's attention in the first place. The company allegedly spammed users to advertise its product, included deceptive subject lines, failed to include an opt-out mechanism, and suggested that the product was "discounted" for a "limited time," when in reality it was always available for the same price.

The dubious marketing tactics did not end there. Secure Computer also sold its product using pop-up ads which warned users that their computers might be infected with spyware, and it offered them a free system scan. The results of the scan were invariably positive. "Our investigation found that this so-called free scan always detected spyware, even on a clean computer," said Senior Counsel Paula Selis, who led the state investigation. "In order to remove this falsely detected spyware, users were instructed to pay $49.95 for the full version of Spyware Cleaner." It is illegal under Washington law to "induce a computer user to download software by falsely claiming the software is necessary for security purposes," she added.

Score system? (2, Informative)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150258)

This post just pointed out the the complete uselessness of the scoring system used on slashdot.

According to the post, it was scored 4 for being informative when it is comprised of nothing more then a cut/paste from the article, prefaced with a remark that attempts to point out the obvious. Don't get me wrong. I'm not slamming the poster here, but rather the scoring system.

Kudos, Slashdot, on an excellent scoring system.

(By the time some of you read this, it may have changed, dunno. But I can almost assure you that THIS post will be slammed as a Troll. Woot!)

Re:Score system? (1)

griffjon (14945) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150356)

Hopefully you wont get trollified, you're totally right. And in the time it took my to cut and paste, 10 others had done the same because the article summary made it look all oh, poor little spyware company getting hoisted by its own anti-spyware petard, when the reality was much different. le sigh.

Re:Score system? (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150500)

Glad to see you were not offended by my comment. Your obviously smart enough to see that it was not targeting YOU.

Believe it or not, I was actually concerned about that.

I am one of those "fucked up in the head" people that realizes that there is a real person at the other end of every post.

Lawyers win again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149078)

Notice that vast majority (70%) of money goes to the lawyers... and you'd think that Local Govt would have sense to employ some of them fulltime at salary levels that would not result in such huge payouts...

No the irony is... (3, Interesting)

korbin_dallas (783372) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149100)

that a handful of LAWYERS get $750,000 meanwhile the real engine of the economy, people who bought and used the thing have to split $75,000.

"If I owned this place and Hell, I'd rent this place out and live in Hell."

Re:No the irony is... (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149556)

It was the state attorneys' office that brought suit. The funds are probably going to be thrown into the general state funds.

Re:No the irony is... (2, Informative)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149580)

"people who bought and used the thing have to split $75,000."

Over about 1000 people, that averages out to $75 for what they paid $50 for.

they deserved it (2, Funny)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149110)

It would be ironic if they were more than nominally an anti-spyware company. I read the article, and it sounds like the ruling was correct.

Good Guys have to obey the law too (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149112)

Giving good guys a pass for bad behavior sends a bad message.

It's like saying it's ok for a sports hero or rap-music artist to drive drunk. Oh, wait.

This is pretty interesting (1)

GoodbyeBlueSky1 (176887) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149140)

The company certainly deserves what it got, what a bunch of scheming assholes. What's interesting is that there really wasn't any spyware involved (if Ars Technica's writeup is accurate), just spam and deceptive popup ads. So how does this fall within Washington's "new spyware law"? And I wonder what kind of precedent this could set (probably just for the state, but, you know Redmond is located there too).

Broadening definitions (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150174)

It suggests that the anti-spyware law is defined broadly enough to cover related offenses.

It reminds me of the way the term "computer virus" has expanded, at least in general use, to cover worms, trojans, and other sorts of malware that don't technically fall under the original definition. This has happened concurrently with antivirus programs expanding their mandate to cover various types of computer security threats.

Similarly, going the other way, you have "spam" incorporating email-based phishing attempts, 419 scams, etc., even though they're not necessarily "unsolicited commercial email" or, in some cases, technically "bulk" -- not to mention applying to newsgroups, forums, comment threads, etc. in addition to email.

As far as the law goes, it's always tricky to find the right balance. You don't want to make the law apply in too specific a case, or it stops applying after a while. A law requiring all Model T drivers to use headlights at night would be useless today, but a law requiring all automobile drivers to use headlights will still be useful if we're all using Mr. Fusion-powered hovercars in 20 years. On the other hand, you don't want to be too broad, or you end up doing things like making MP3 players illegal.

State Attorney's Fees?!? (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149230)

What is the deal with State Attorney's fees? This action was brought by officials of the State Attorney General's office, their salaries are paid by taxpayers. As employees of the State, the prosecution lawyers have already been paid for their work. Sure the State has a right to recover their expenses in this lawsuit, but this seems like an awfully high dollar figure, and seems like double-dipping at the taxpayers' expense. Do the prosecutors get a bonus for winning?

Re:State Attorney's Fees?!? (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149312)

and seems like double-dipping at the taxpayers' expense

How is that? They're taking the money from the spammer, so it's not like the taxpayer is paying twice. In fact, assuming that the attorney would submit a bill to the state (and thus the taxpayers), instead said bill will be subsidized by this spamming fake.

Re:State Attorney's Fees?!? (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149952)

Sure, I endorse the spammer paying attorney's fees, that's the whole point, to make the losing defendant pay for the lawsuit. But how can the State Attorneys submit a bill to anyone when they are salaried employees of the State? The "lawyers fees," in actuality, are State fees, since they should rightfully be awarded to the State Treasury, since taxpayers bankrolled the lawsuit. Why should the attorneys get anything beyond their salaries? If the attorneys get money from their salary AND fees from the defendant, that seems like double dipping.

Re:State Attorney's Fees?!? (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150026)

But how can the State Attorneys submit a bill to anyone when they are salaried employees of the State?


The money to pay those attorneys' salary (and other expenses incurred in the litigation) come out of taxpayer funded accounts. The award of attorneys' fees takes money from the wrongdoer and puts it back in those accounts, saving the taxpayers the expenses incurred in the litigation and allowing them (through their elected representatives) to use that money for other purposes.

Re:State Attorney's Fees?!? (2, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149976)

What is the deal with State Attorney's fees? This action was brought by officials of the State Attorney General's office, their salaries are paid by taxpayers.


The taxpayers have (directly or through their representatives) chosen to have certain wrongdoers pay them (the taxpayers) back for those salaries and other expenses in certain cases when the expenses are devoted to dealing with those wrongdoers' wrongdoing; essentially, this money will go to the state's general fund, to offset expenses (both personnel expenses that would have been made anyway but devoted to other purposes, and additional expenses, personnel and otherwise, that are directly attributable to the case.)

Sure the State has a right to recover their expenses in this lawsuit, but this seems like an awfully high dollar figure, and seems like double-dipping at the taxpayers' expense.


As explained, its not double dipping, and its not at the taxpayers' expense. Also, $725,000 in legal expenses to deal with 1,145 claims isn't all that much (the fact that its much bigger than the claims themselves is one reason why laws like this create a state right of action rather than forcing victims to sue on their own in the first place.)

Re:State Attorney's Fees?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17151824)

I hope you actually don't believe that the actual lawyers got the money. That money goes back to the people of the state by providing the State Attorney's office with more funds to work with.

What?! (1)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149404)

...and pay another $725,000 to cover the state's attorneys' fees.

Well, i think i fucked up good when i picked my career path.

Haha (-1, Troll)

matt me (850665) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149494)

The grass on this side of the fence is so damn fucking green.

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686)

No (1)

kofox (615130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149516)

Where has all the semi witty slashdot drivel gone? I was expecting to be entertained, because this topic is obviously wrought with irony, but instead all I get are these boring insightful comments. You people are pathetic. I hate you. Moegar ftw!

Re:No (2, Funny)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149846)

I know, where's BadAnalogyGuy when you need him?

This is like a bullet proof vest maker shooting someone in the chest. No, wait, this is like a vest maker being shot in the chest, with his own gun, and then being thrown in a river. No wait...

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17150100)

You mean, in Soviet Russia they keep the spyware and delete the computer?

Good Job (1)

Actual Reality (965969) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149530)

The ONLY irony is that the lawyer fees were more than the penalty and restitution combined. These guys were using the oldest trick in the book... Spyware that claims to remove spyware. Good Riddance! ~AR

As a PC Tech.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149750)

As a PC Tech. this is one of the companies we always tell people, they are the spyware. Don't Click It, or Install It!

My sympathy for them is near zero... (2, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149860)

Anti-spyware that cannot be easily uninstalled and constantly harrases the user to purchase an upgrade is no better at all than the malware that it proposes to eliminate. The tactics of such software are to harrass the user to the point that they ultimately surrender and buy the software simply to be rid of it. I've recently been witness to this happening on a Windows system that had both a firewall and current virus protection at the time, yet not even the latest antivirus signatures loaded into it would get rid of the malware. After spending three days trying to eliminate it using every tactic I could think of, I reformatted the drive and reinstalled Windows. For the sake of reference, it looked like it was promoting the software "Virus Bursters" and "Drive Cleaner". Any product I could find that claimed to get rid of them either simply failed to do the job or else cost money to get rid of it (although the scan was free). The latter policy frankly struck me as no different than the tactics that the author(s) of this particular malware are trying to employ, and I will not submit to such blackmailing tactics.

Spammer or company spamming = all the same (2, Insightful)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149998)

But it was the way that Spyware Cleaner was marketed that attracted the Attorney General's attention in the first place. The company allegedly spammed users to advertise its product, included deceptive subject lines, failed to include an opt-out mechanism, and suggested that the product was "discounted" for a "limited time," when in reality it was always available for the same price.
I`m *very* happy to see the government does not differentiate between spammers, and spammers acting as legitimate companies. To me it doesn't matter if it's your son delibatery sending me spam or your boss, you're all equally convicted of being jerks in my eyes, and I`m glad to see this court had the same point of view on this.

Is this opposite day? (1)

stile99 (1004110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150186)

Spyware Cleaner is anti-spyware now?

I make a nice chunk of change removing crap from computers. Spyware 'Cleaner' is one of the piles. Just like all the other crap you get when you click a flashing ad that says "You're[sic] computer is infected...click here to clean it!"

This won't hurt a bit. (1)

zeiche (81782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150194)

The company will probably switch to stock pump-and-dump scams anyway.

Moderating (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150202)

They really need to include the option to moderate stories and summaries in addition to the comments themselves. I'd like to put this one down for +1 misleading summary

How about just calling it 'Fraud'? (2, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150540)

Why did the state need a new law to handle this? Two thousand year old Roman law would have been adequate for a fraud conviction.

Re:How about just calling it 'Fraud'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17151462)

We have new laws so that legislators can validate their existence.

Can you name one thing your state senator has done?
... and conversely ...
Can your state senator name a laundry list of laws they helped author?

It's busy work. Usually I don't care if someone decides to partake in busy work but, when they do it, it that has the potential the screw-over most people.

wrong law (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150850)

Sounds like they violated the rico act.

Washington resident (1)

Var1abl3 (1021413) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150866)

Well I guess I should be proud of what Washington State has done. As a lifetime resident I am a bit surprised they did this at all... you would have to live here to understand our local politics but back to the point at hand. Not only did they use deceptive tactics to sell this "anti-spyware" to you once you installed the product it actually reduced your overall system security like delete your host file and turn on file and print sharing and disable you firewall while also removing the little pop up window that warns you your firewall is disabled..... and more... If I could be your benevolent dictator for a day the company would have had it a lot worse than $1M in fines... and just you wait... I bet the company declares bankruptcy and never pays a penny. ahh but to be a lawer in Washington...........

Re:Washington resident (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17151146)

The article already says the company no longer exists. What I'd like to know and is not evident is what legal form of company was it? Sole-proprietorship? S-Corp? etc. My money is on a sole proprietor-ship because the seem to be getting the money from "the owner".

Stop posting. (2, Informative)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151576)

Zonk. Stop posting shit.

Seriously what is this crap? "Washington Law Stops Anti-Spyware Vendor"? The vendor in question was FALSE MARKETING claiming machines were INFECTED when they were clean. It was throwing pop-ups in peoples' faces and everything. The SEC could shut these guys down, seriously. You might as well say "Built-In FTP Password Sniffer in Linux Kernel" and talk about the Linux Kernel sniffing FTP passwords and sending them offsite; there's actually an example code out there to explain what a rootkit is and demonstrate connection tracking, it's not part of vanilla Linux or any distro, and this would make great FUD. It'd be right along Zonk's line of posting too.

My suggestion is that Slashdot needs to throw Zonk out because his stories are all bullshit.

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