[photopress:popups.jpg,full,alignright]There are some facts which are not in question. A massive legal campaign against malicious software launched by a grass-roots, Anti-Hooligan Software Federation suffered its first blow as a Beijing court ruled in favor of the software provider. (Note that the term ‘hooligan software’ does not appear to be in general use outside China.)
Dong Haiping, leader of an Anti-Hooligan Software Federation, accused Alibaba of forcing the installation of search software Yahoo! Assistant onto his computer when he visited the website of an Alibaba subsidiary, Yahoo! China.
It was claimed the software could not be removed completely and that it caused the collapse of the computer’s hard disk. Dong Haiping also said traces of the program remained on his computer after he tried to remove it. It was further claimed that Yahoo was making serious money from this as in RMB200 million. The Federation was claiming RMB94 in damages which seems quite odd.
The verdict passed down by Chaoyang District People’s Court said Dong Haiping had failed to prove Yahoo! Assistant that damaged his hard disk. The verdict suggested the breakdown of Dong’s computer might have been caused by the use of pirated software, which conflicted with Yahoo! Assistant.
This was China’s first verdict passed down after the Anti-Hooligan Software Federation filed six lawsuits in September against major Internet search engines for using hooligan software. Note that Yahoo ended the automatic installation of software in September, 2005 and now politely asks permission before installing.
Those are the facts. It can also be shown that some hooligan software will bung pop-up advertisements on your computer. After that it gets iffy.
To claim that Yahoo was spyware which can steal a user’s personal information is pretty far-fetched. The same with trackware which can find out where a user lives and works and malicious software that may infect a user’s computer with a virus.
Li Jun, a lawyer for the defense said Yahoo! Assistant is safe software that can be removed and installed in accordance with users’ wishes. That too, is probably a bit iffy. It depends how your computer was set up. Now it is moot because you have the option of telling it to go away at installation.
Huang Jinshen, a lawyer for the plaintiff said the verdict was expected because China has no relevant laws defining hooligan software and protecting Internet users. (Incidentally, neither does Australia or, possibly, Britain.)
Huang Jinshen said the goal of the legal campaign goes beyond winning the lawsuit, but promoting wider social recognition and facilitating the establishment of related laws.
Source: China Daily
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