Chinese student sues Microsoft over WGA

Chinese student sues Microsoft over WGA

A Beijing college student has sued Microsoft, claiming that its antipiracy program violated his privacy, a Chinese government-controlled news site reported last week.

According to China.org.cn, a news portal run by China's State Council Information Office, Lu Feng has sued Microsoft and its Chinese subsidiary, Microsoft (China) Co., in a People's Court.

Lu's lawsuit said Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) antipiracy software posed a threat to his privacy and the security of his PC, which runs Windows XP. He also claimed that he was not properly informed before XP installed WGA Notifications, a separate program that flags counterfeit copies and nags users running pirated versions.

Microsoft took heat last year when it issued WGA Notifications through XP's Automatic Update (AU) mechanism, which is usually reserved for supplying security patches and other software fixes. At the time, Microsoft justified the move by saying the AU was the only way to "reach the greatest number of PC users."

The suit asks the court to order Microsoft to delete the information it harvested from Lu's PC, provide an uninstaller for Notifications, publicly apologize, and pay Lu $US179 as compensation.

A Microsoft spokesperson in China was quoted by China.org.cn as saying that the company would have no comment on the case.

At least one lawsuit has been filed against Microsoft in the U.S. over WGA. The June 2006 suit by Brian Johnson accused WGA of spyware-like behavior, and argued that Microsoft had thus violated consumer and antispyware laws. That case is ongoing, but has not been scheduled for trial.

The news of Lu's lawsuit came about two weeks after Microsoft faced a storm of criticism over an outage of the servers that validate Windows XP and Vista as genuine, which resulted in several thousand legitimate users being identified as pirates.

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Gregg Keizer

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