[LINK] RFI: Microsoft Genuine Advantage Notifications

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Mon Jul 24 13:17:45 AEST 2006

Are any linkers considering making a formal complaint about any 
aspects of the Microsoft Genuine Advantage feature?

Nigel Waters is a Board-member of the Australian Privacy Foundation, 
and an ex-Deputy Privacy Commissioner, and (silly man) a Microsoft 

He's considering preparing or participating in a complaint:
-   to ACCC, re misleading statements, and perhaps duress;  and perhaps also
-   to the Privacy Commissioner re privacy-invasiveness.

He'd appreciate your thoughts on his summary of the situation, below.

At 18:06 +1000 17/7/06, nigel waters wrote:
>Dear selected geeks
>Not sure if this is worth an NPP 1 'unnecessary collection' and NPP 8
>'anonymity' complaint - or maybe wait and see where the US class actions get
>(And yes Roger, I know it is my own fault for staying with Microsoft ...!)
>With reference to recent controversy over this alleged spyware(see media
>including CNET News 03 July but I can't now find it on their site) I have
>just had an interesting experience.
>Windows auto-update indicated the need for two 'priority' patches - one for
>a Windows Media Player (WMP) vulnerability and the 'Genuine Advantage
>Notification' - the latter offered the following explanation :
>"The Windows Genuine Advantage Notification tool notifies you if your copy
>of Windows is not genuine. If your system is found to be a non-genuine, the
>tool will help you obtain a licensed copy of Windows."
>Aware of the controversy, I contacted Microsoft Technical support by phone
>(surprisingly quick) to ask how I could accept the WMP patch but defer the
>other pending further investigation (there was no obvious way of selecting
>this on the download page).
>I was told that this was not an option - if I wanted ANY further updates
>then I would have to accept the Genuine Advantage Notifications (GAN) patch
>as well.
>I was given two URLs for further information, neither of which worked, but
>found something by searching for <Genuine> at
>This contains the apparently misleading statements
>" Note The Automatic Updates feature is not affected by the WGA validation
>check. Therefore, you can use the Automatic Updates feature to make sure
>that you receive critical Windows updates.", and
>" Customers who have a genuine copy of Windows and who decide not to
>complete the validation process can still obtain critical software updates
>by using the Automatic Updates feature."
>As I was not prepared to risk the absence of the WMP patch I have
>reluctantly accepted both.  To proceed with the GAN patch I was required to
>agree to a lengthy click through alteration to the End User Licence
>Agreement, which amongst other things explains that the patch cannot be
>uninstalled (I haven't tried in case it screws something up).
>I see the debate has moved on to what use they are making of the spyware
>results - see http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/index.cfm?newsid=6644
>But they still need to held to account for the initial collection under
>BTW - the support desk requested name, phone number and email address as
>well as product code, before offering help, and then at the conclusion of
>the call attempted a so called 'customer survey' asking about 'preferred
>means of hearing from Microsoft', which I was prepared to answer but had to
>insist that it did not amount to authorisation for any marketing I am not
>already getting.  In retrospect, it is difficult to see why they need name,
>phone no and email (product registration is fair enough I suppose, and first
>name OK to allow courtesy in contact).  The so called survey appears to have
>been a straightforward underhand attempt to add you to an email or phone
>marketing list using the details collected at the start of the call!  I
>shouldn't be surprised at this behaviour by now but occasionally feel the
>need to sound off!

Roger Clarke                  http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng  Australian National University
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program      University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW

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