Austin, TX (December 5, 2005)–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has sued Sony BMG Music Entertainment. Texas is the first state in the nation to bring legal action against Sony for illegal spyware. The suit is also the first filed under the state’s spyware law of 2005. It alleges the company surreptitiously installed the spyware on millions of CDs that consumers inserted into their computers and which can compromise the systems.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit alleges the New York-based company violated a new Texas law protecting consumers from the hidden spyware. The company accomplished this by using new technology on certain music CDs to install files onto consumers’ computers that hide other files installed by Sony. This secret “cloaking” component is installed without the knowledge of consumers and can cause their computers to become vulnerable to computer viruses and other forms of attack.
“Sony has engaged in a technological version of cloak and dagger deceit against consumers by hiding secret files on their computers,” said Attorney General Abbott. “Consumers who purchased a Sony CD thought they were buying music. Instead, they received spyware that can damage a computer, subject it to viruses and expose the consumer to possible identity crime.”
Sony insists on its Web site that it has recalled all affected CDs. However, Attorney General’s investigators were able to purchase numerous titles at Austin retail stores as recently as Sunday evening.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit also alleges that a phantom file is installed to conceal the XCP files from the user, thus making it difficult for the user to remove the files from his or her computer.
Because of alleged violations of the Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act of 2005, the Attorney General is seeking civil penalties of $100,000 for each violation of the law, attorneys’ fees and investigative costs.
Texas Attorney General