Controversial media company and alleged spreader of adware Zango, formerly 180solutions, has been forced to back down from its legal attempts to get both Kaspersky Lab and PC Tools to reclassify its applications as non-threatening and prevent security software from blocking them.

Kaspersky Lab reports that the US District Court of Washington has ruled in their favour, granting immunity from liability in a case brought by Zango which claimed its applications, which install pop-up ads, were being unfairly blocked. Judge Coughenour of the Western District of Washington obviously didn't agree with Zango, throwing the case out of court on the grounds that Kaspersky was immune from liability under the provisions of the Communications Decency Act, which states in part: "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected, or any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to [such] material."

"Kaspersky Lab's mission is, and has always been, to make the Internet a safer place for all. We are thrilled with the outcome of this case because it supports the key message of the information security industry - consumer protection comes first" Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab, told us.

It has not been a good week for Zango which was forced to drop another similar case, in the same court, against Australian anti-spyware outfit PC Tools after it became clear it was not going to win. Zango puts a different shine on the decision, stating in an official blog on the matter that PC Tools had made changes and "no longer eliminates or blocks Zango software as it did previously."

PC Tools, and most commentators, see it differently though. "It appears that Zango has realised they were not going to prevail in this matter and the case has been withdrawn on this basis" Simon Clausen, Chief Executive Officer at PC Tools told DaniWeb, adding "we believe the case should not have been brought in the first place. The outcome sends a strong message that PC Tools will not be changing their classification of programs as a result of the threat of legal proceedings."

One thing is clear, however, and that is this represents a huge victory for the ordinary user, fed up with adware and spyware. It protects the consumer by giving them a choice over what information and software is allowed on their systems, and gives the anti-spyware vendors the right to identify and block applications they feel are undermining that choice. Nothing is stopping users from configuring their anti-spyware scanners so as to allow Zango products, after all…

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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