McAfee sued by unhappy 'adware' company

7Search contests adware classification has become the latest outfit to legally contest its classification as spyware by a major anti-malware company.

In a court filing from August 25, US-based complains that "McAfee continues to incorrectly and falsely advise the public that contains downloads that are adware, spyware, or other potentially unwanted programs, when it is aware that there is no software on that site at all".

Currently, McAfee's SiteAdvisor site analysis system gives it an 'X'rating, stating that "feedback from credible users suggests that downloads on this site may contain what some people would consider adware, spyware, or other potentially unwanted programs". demands that McAfee change its rating from 'red' to 'green', and delete any references made in SiteAdvisor that the site is connected to adware, spyware or viruses. does admit being associated with the 7FaSSt Toolbar, a piece of hijackware it says has not been available from its site since 2003, claiming rather disingenuously that the program was only installed after users had been presented with an end-user licence agreement, and could be removed using the Windows Add/Remove interface.

This is despite the fact that several anti-spyware companies make reference to the software being associated with after 2003, including one, Sunbelt Software, which makes the same connection, without going into detail, as recently as June 2008.

The number of 7FaSSt removal tools might also suggest that the software was not as easy to de-install as claimed.

The versus McAfee case is remarkably similar to 2007 battle between Zango and software vendors PC Tools and Kaspersky Lab, concerning their classification of the company's toolbar software. At the time, it was suggested that the legal threats could be used against smaller anti-virus companies by way of intimidation. This would hardly apply in the case of McAfee, one of the largest security companies in the world.

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John E Dunn
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