News Release from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121
December 20, 2006

Senator Zaffirini's anti-spyware bill results in multi-million-dollar settlement for Texas

AUSTIN -- A lawsuit based on Senator Judith Zaffirini's Consumer Protection Against Spyware Act (2005) will bring the State of Texas millions, and perhaps tens of millions, of dollars.

Attorney General Greg Abbot on Tuesday (Dec. 19) announced the state's settlement with Sony BMG Music, which installed harmful and problematic "spyware" on more than 100 compact discs sold to consumers last year.

Senator Zaffirini's Senate Bill 327 authorized the attorney general and victims of spyware to seek and recover monetary damages from companies and persons who misuse spyware technology to take personal information from computers without their owners knowledge.

"Spyware is a misuse and abuse of technology that threatens consumers' personal data," Senator Zaffirini said. "I am pleased that the attorney general's lawsuit against Sony BMG Music for violating our spyware law resulted in this impressive settlement. Texas consumers truly were protected by and will benefit from my Consumer Protection Against Spyware Act, which was supported strongly by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and my colleagues in the Texas Senate."

Spyware infiltrates host computers in the form of viruses or as a result of installing new programs. Once installed, these programs gather information about a person or organization without the user's knowledge. Enacting SB 327 was essential to protect consumers from the detrimental effects of identity theft technology that makes on-line shopping unsafe and erodes confidence in eCommerce.

According to the attorney general's staff, Texas was the first state to launch an investigation against spyware. The settlement stipulates that Texans affected by spyware have until June 30, 2007, to file a return claim with Sony BMD and can claim up to $175 for repairs made to a damaged computer.

Sony BMG also must pay the state $750,000, maintain return efforts for Texas consumers and adhere to third-party monitoring for the next five years to ensure their CDs are free of spyware.

"This is an important privacy issue, especially for home and new internet users." Senator Zaffirini said. "I am pleased that the attorney general implemented the Consumer Protection Against Spyware Act to protect and secure justice for Texas consumers. This settlement is a tremendous win for Texas business and commerce."

Additional tips for protecting a computer and personal information can be obtained by viewing the cyber crimes link at www.oag.state.tx.us. Information regarding return procedures and a list of affected CDs can be obtained by visiting the Sony BMG website at http://www.sonybmgcdtechsettlement.com/.

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