Sony BMG trying on pair of spyware suits

Texas lawsuit contends that technology opens doors to hackers

Is Sony BMG a computer hacker?

The Texas attorney general and Electronic Frontier Foundation think so. Both have filed lawsuits under new state antispyware laws over controversial antipiracy technology the diskery recently agreed to stop using after critics pointed out that it makes computers vulnerable to viruses.

Sony BMG inserted the technology to prevent piracy by limiting the number of copies users can make.

Texas attorney general Greg Abbott accused the label of installing spyware, since the antipiracy program masks files that it installs.

“People buy these CDs to listen to music,” Abbott said. “What they don’t bargain for is the consumer invasion that is unleashed by Sony BMG.”

EFF, a nonprofit “cyberliberties” group, filed a suit in Los Angeles Superior Court.

It contends that Sony BMG should compensate consumers for the difficult process of removing the software from their computers.

Sony BMG reps declined to comment, saying the company does not discuss pending litigation.

The Texas spyware law allows the state to recover damages of up to $100,000 for each violation. Abbott said there were thousands of violations and that any money would go to the state.

The California law under which the EFF was filing its lawsuit bans collecting personally identifiable information through deceptive means and allows consumers to sue for damages.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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