FTC Goes After Another Bogus Anti-Spyware Remover

FTC v. Trustsoft, No. H05-1905 (S.D. Tex. complaint filed May 31, 2005; Stipulated Preliminary Injunction Order granted June 14, 2005). The FTC has busted another vendor of anti-spyware software for making false claims about its products–specifically, that the “SpyKiller” software properly identified spyware and effectively removed it. The FTC claims that the software used an overinclusive definition of spyware to scare consumers into paying money to the vendor, then failed to remove the identified spyware. The FTC also claimed that the vendor sent emails that were not CAN-SPAM compliant.

I have no opinion about the legitimacy of this vendor’s actions. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that SpyKiller was fraudware designed to play on the overhyped media frenzy about the perils of spyware. With consumers scared stiff, there’s plenty of room for hucksters to prey on consumer fears.

However, I have a major concern about enforcement actions against anti-spyware vendors generally. If we can’t agree on the definition of “spyware,” how can we evaluate if a vendor’s software is properly identifying spyware or not? One person’s spyware is another person’s legitimate and useful software. I know the FTC understands this point, and I’m hoping they are treading cautiously accordingly.

SIDE RAMBLE: Hey, FTC, have you considered setting up an RSS feed for your newsroom page? It would be great to be get notifications of your announcements rather than having to wait for someone else to pick up the news report or having to check the page myself manually. The Copyright Office’s RSS feed is pretty nifty…

UPDATE: Suzi caught this too.