back to article McAfee SiteAdvisor sued over 'spyware' tag

In a case that could tie the hands of companies trying to protect their customers from internet threats, a website owner with past ties to a notorious piece of spyware has filed a lawsuit claiming it is being unfairly maligned by warnings from McAfee that the site poses a risk to its customers. filed the complaint …


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  1. Martin Lyne


    If someone hired me to consult for them and I told them Company X made bad software, that's legit.. but if McAfee do it then it's willfulling hurting a business?

    I think doing stupid things in the first place is what wilfully hurt the business. Case closed shithead.

  2. Wokstation

    As it's the United States of Americaland...

    ...can't McAffee claim "freedom of speech"? Afterall, the warning is *technically* opinion, and it's being transmitted from the US... therefore, it's free speech.

  3. James O'Shea Silver badge
    Dead Vulture


    I'd never heard of that site before. I now have. I have marked it in my HOSTS file. By launching this lawsuit, they have ensured that I, for one, and everyone whose systems I'm responsible for, for others, will never, ever visit their site. Even by accident.


  4. Gordon Fecyk

    It's all Micro$oft's fault!!!!!!111oneone

    7Search used ActiveX, Microsoft invented ActiveX, therefore Microsoft's at fault.


  5. asponge


    I really don't understand these lawsuits. How is what McAfee is doing with SiteAdvisor any different than a consumer website posting a poor review of a product? The former thinks a site is unsafe. The later thinks a product is crap. Seems like the same thing to me. Unless I'm missing something.

  6. Kwac

    @It's all Micro$oft's fault!!!!!!111oneone

    Yes, its unfortunate that MS gave the world ActiveX before they realised that not all companies shared their business ethics & morals.


  7. Wokstation


    Absolutely agree. 7search might have had a point if McAfee were actively blocking client access to the site, but they're not. They're saying "You really sure you wanna go there?".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    No opening <sarcasm> tag so no reason to close it or did you mean this <sarcasm />.

  9. Tom

    It's bad enough...

    That companies feel they have to use "potentially unwanted programs" instead of calling them what they are.

  10. Franklin

    Re: Confused

    Transparency, for one thing. A product review lives or dies on its (ostensible) merits, whereas this is a blind, " si dANgirous!" without supporting evidence provided. Sort of like a product review as a single line: "Hello. It's Crap.".

    Not that I disagree with McAffee (or care. They're Crap!) in this case, but there is a dif'rence.

  11. Chronos

    Re: Confused

    More relevant is the case of e360 Vs Spamhaus, I would wager. McAfee do exactly the same thing Spamhaus do: Make recommendations on the trustworthiness of a particular host on the Intartubes. Spamhaus only lost in the first instance because nobody turned up to represent them and, later, they seemed to win on most points, although e350 scumbags got their own way on one point (we weren't spamming in Sept 2006. OK, guys, we'll remove the ROKSO entry for Sept 2006. Now, what about this spam in Oct 2006, and this one from yesterday?).

    Hilarity. Of course, Spamhaus were quite right, although I can't help feeling they would have been doing us all a great service if they had just STFU and showed up to squash these parasites like the bugs they are: They have no physical presence in the US, therefore were not within US jurisdiction. You can't tell a US judge that without getting his/her hackles (heckles, feckles, schmackles, whatever they're called, they're up and pointing at you, buddy!) up. Thankfully, McAfee are a US company and will probably turn up, grovel adequately to the judge and set a precedent once and for all. We can only hope...

  12. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
    Paris Hilton

    About: threats

    "Since at least 2003 there have been no direct downloads available on the site."

    "Feedback from credible users suggests that downloads on this site may contain what some people would consider adware, spyware, or other potentially unwanted programs."

    The term: "may contain", is not tense specific. Perhaps the line aught to have had a lawyer copy-edit it but it isn't a phrase that precludes future threats.

    It might well be based on previous history (without indicating the prior art is still intact) but only a competent foot-shooter would want to draw attention to that.

    I hope McAfee's lawyers win. And I hope they charge exceedingly excellent pecuniary remunerations.

  13. dervheid

    "set a precedent once and for all. We can only hope..."

    that it's the RIGHT precedence! Otherwise it's a Crapware Charter.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Remote Control

    Having SiteAdvisor is the end users choice, if I choose to use such software (which is MY legal right) then that is because I have decided that I want its opinion on sites I may visit and the protection it may offer me. Sitre Advisor is not forced on me.

    So what this is actually saying is that I have no right to install any software on my pc that might prevent me visiting their site.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Caveat Emptor

    If someone ADVISES me not to do something, it is MY choice whether or not to do it. Doctors tell me coffee is bad for me, the environmentalists tell me I'm destroying the planet and conspiracy theorists (well, one idiot I know) tell(s) me that visiting El Reg gets me on some top-secret Government hit-list of dodgy people Intent On Overthrowing Civilization As We Know It (he's one of those people who seem to capitalise every word when he speaks - at least when he's harping on about his latest "spy scandal" anyway).

    It's up to me to decide if I want to perform the action - visit a website, drink four mugs of coffee a day, read BOFH - or not...

    Besides, I don't live in Illinois so why the rutting hell should some American court be able to dictate what I can and cannot see? (Surely this should be being done in California, it seems to me that practically everything else 'legalese' is done there - or is this too strange & outrageous even for Californian law?)

    If I were McAfee, I'd get my lawyers working an a statement along the lines of "We are legally bound NOT to warn you about the relative wisdom of visiting this site, but they took us to court to get a gagging order to stop us telling you our opinion."...

  16. William Old

    @ I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    > The term: "may contain", is not tense specific. Perhaps the line aught to have had a lawyer copy-edit it...

    Before getting a lawyer to copy-edit it, they should have checked it from the perspective of literacy... I know that it was written by an American, but in English "may" is permissive, and clearly they actually meant "might", which is probabilistic.

    "You may borrow my computer" = permissive

    "It might rain tomorrow" = probabilistic

    "May" might be used wrongly instead of "might", but no-one may corrupt English meaning in this way... :-)

  17. Simon B

    my crap is not on my site so im innocent - NOT!

    "Since at least 2003 there have been no direct downloads available on the site." - Nope, cus it's on other sites instead!

  18. Donna Walters Kozberg


    So maybe it’s risky to let the courts decide on issues like freedom of speech (who needs laws and judges and rights when we have Big Brother?), but McAfee SiteAdvisor may be overdue for a day in court.

    I run a nonprofit that’s been around for more than thirty years. Our niche is small, but our mission is critical. We had one of the first guestbooks on the web. As a courtesy, we used to allow visitors (mostly jobseekers) the option of posting their email addresses. SiteAdvisor red-flagged our site (not our guestbook; they don’t have interest in subtleties) because of it, in spite of the fact that we upgraded our programming to maximize protection from spammers. SiteAdvisor refused to answer our queries, except with generic spew (so much for “working with Web site owners”). We surrendered, stopped allowing visitors to post email addresses, and pleaded with SiteAdvisor to take down the warning. They continue to ignore us.

    As I wrote in a letter to Dave DeWalt in May, SiteAdvisor is affirming the old image of the Internet as a place as brutal as the wild (American) west, not by protecting its customers from actual threats, but by riding into villages with big guns blazing and behaving as if the innocent bystanders they slaughter don’t matter. Such arrogance begets lawsuits and legislation.

    Donna Walters Kozberg

  19. Chronos
    Thumb Up


    Yup, that was the idea to which the ellipsis alluded ;)

    The two ACs above have hit the nail squarely on the head: Using McAfee's site advisor (or squidGuard, Spamhaus Zen, ORDB and the likes) is a conscious choice on the part of the sysadmin/end-user, effectively saying "I trust this data more than I trust the sites to which it refers and I have no wish for my *private* machines to communicate with these endpoints at all." McAfee have blocked nothing at all. The end user has, as is his or her right.

    This needs confirming legally as a sysadmin/end-user's absolute right. These bastards aren't just suing McAfee, it's a broadside against the entire malware/abuse information system, ultimately challenging one of our most important rights on the Internet just as TFA pointed out in the first place.

    ISPs please note, this is also one of the reasons for the backlash against Phorm: Implementing this is forcing machines to communicate with an endpoint that nobody in their right mind would choose to communicate with, let alone disclose sensitive data to.

  20. James Butler
    Thumb Up

    @William Old

    According to your dissection of the grammar, McAfee has nothing to lose, and 7Search are idiots ... because SiteAdvisor just gave them permission to host malware on their site. It wasn't a warning, it was an invitation!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    interesting game

    if you pop over to their site - and search for ,

    some of the comments are quite interesting - it looks like you can poison the stream, they rely on people to report sites.

  22. David


    What none of you have considered is the legal definition of libel. See

    Contrary to popular (and uneducated) opinion, freedom of speech is NOT a license to say whatever you want about whomever you want whenever you want. People and companies are responsible for the voracity of potentially damaging statements that they make.

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