MUNICH, Germany (October 29, 2015)
Avira, the world renowned antivirus and anti-malware tech giant, is taking Freemium.com to court for allegedly “…confusing users into installing unwanted programs that can compromise users’ privacy or weaken their computer’s security.”
In a move widely being reported as the first of its kind, Avira CEO, Travis Witteveen said in a statement that it was the right time to take the anti-malware fight straight to the publishers of adware directly.
The move by Avira is the latest in a series of actions the antivirus giant has taken in recent months. As well as this new legal assault Avira have also forged relationships with other anti-malware companies, such as Lavasoft.
Freemium.com stands accused of knowingly abusing and violating “consumers legal right to privacy and [also] using invalid contracts.”
The core thrust of Avira’s argument centres on Freemium.com’s wrapper, or software installation tool.
Avira have classed it as a ‘PUA,’ or Potentially Unwanted Application. Freemium’s PUA wrapper, it has been alleged, uses “social engineering tricks to make the user install other potentially unwanted applications, “and does so without the user being aware.”
Witteveen referred to Freemium’s software as hiding ‘crapware’ citing this example: “We’ve documented where a user wanting to download a single app could end up with four additional programs, two browser extensions, and a desktop link to a gaming site.”
Avira has long been at the forefront in identifying PUA’s. They think it is up to the anti-malware industry to stop the unfair business practices, which are allegedly being carried out by websites such as Freemium.com.
As part of Avira’s case against Freemium, the company also alleges that Freemium.com’s user agreements veer from the unenforceable, to the right for Freemium to give virtually unlimited rights to use and sell users detail with impunity.
The fact that Avira have launched the case in Germany should come as little surprise to tech readers. Germany is famously is a global leader in privacy legislation for individuals, and any court order given against Freemium will force to it either clean up its act, or change the way it operates in other EU countries.
The Problem with Potentially Unwanted Applications
PUA’s are a real issue for consumers worldwide. Avira has analyzed more than 225 million PUA warnings in the last 7 months alone. More than 63 million warnings were for software either identical or very closely related the Freemium.com software wrapper.
“This lawsuit is just the latest step,” Mr Witteveen concluded. “We will continue to work at many levels to stop the flood of nuisance applications.”
At the time of publishing, Freemium.com had not issued a statement of their own in response to the allegations.