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Microsoft faces second WGA lawsuit

Plaintiffs in latest lawsuit say antipiracy Windows Genuine Advantage program acts as "spyware."

Microsoft has been named in a second lawsuit over its antipiracy Windows Genuine Advantage program, which plaintiffs allege acts as "spyware" on their systems.

Engineered Process Controls, Univex and several other parties filed a class action lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, alleging Microsoft installed "spyware" on their computers as a "critical security update." The suit comes days after was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

In this most recent lawsuit, the parties allege Microsoft violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Consumer Protection Act, the Computer Spyware Act, and also engaged in intentional misrepresentation of the software program.

Microsoft, however, contends the two lawsuits do not present a fair picture of WGA.

"The two lawsuits appear to be similar in the claims and both are without merit," said Jim Desler, a Microsoft spokesman. "They distort our antipiracy program?and the harm piracy brings to Microsoft and to customers."

Although the WGA feature is designed to validate the authenticity of Windows software installed on a user's PC, it recently raised the ire of some users when Microsoft began delivering the WGA prerelease as a "high priority" item automatically built into Windows updates.

The software, which scans users' hardware and software for information such as their Internet Protocol address, was initially designed to transmit information back to Microsoft every time users booted up their computers. But the software giant has since scaled back the frequency of the transmissions to twice a month and informed users about ways to disable the WGA alerts.