Kaspersky avoids being Zangoed

30 Aug 2007

In a landmark ruling, the United States District Court of Washington has granted international security software vendor Kaspersky immunity from liability in the controversial case brought by adware publisher Zango.

This judgement follows news earlier this week that Zango had withdrawn its similar lawsuit against anti-spyware maker PC Tools.

“This is another great result for the anti-spyware industry and for consumers,” said Simon Clausen, chief executive of PC Tools. “Not only does the judgement represent the court’s decision to protect consumer choice, it also sets clear precedent to protect consumers and anti-spyware makers in these kinds of cases.”

Zango, formerly 180solutions, brought lawsuits against PC Tools and Kaspersky to prevent those firms’ security products from classifying Zango’s software as potentially malicious and automatically removing it.

Zango publishes Hotbar, Seekmo Search Assistant and other controversial adware programs that many critics deem to be a form of malware.

PC Tools has since modified its Spyware Doctor to flag Zango’s software as ‘potentially unwanted applications’ rather than ‘high’ or ‘elevated’ risks, a move that prevented Zango’s software being automatically removed, but this change was made before Zango brought its lawsuit.

In the Kaspersky ruling, Washington District Court threw out Zango’s lawsuit on the grounds that Kaspersky was immune from liability under the Communications Decency Act, part of which states: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected, or any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to [such] material.”

By Niall Byrne