Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pre-installed adware may be kosher under Canadian anti-spyware provisions of CASL

The Next Web is reporting that Lenovo has been shipping consumer laptops pre-equipped with adware (see: Lenovo Caught Installing Adware On New Computers). This raises an interesting question for Canadians: would something like this be ok under the anti-spyware provisions of Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL)?

In true lawyerly style, the answer is "it depends". But maybe this highlights one of the many problems with the law.

The owner or authorized user of a computer system can install whatever he or she wants on the device, but this may not be the ultimate end-user. So if a manufacturer installs adware software on the device before title to it passed to the end user, that may be just fine under the law (but likely problematic from the point of view of the end user). Also, if it is embedded in the operating system of the device, that may be OK because there's deemed consent for the installation of operating systems by third parties.

I think most consumers would say that adware, crapware, bloatware, etc. should not be on their devices without their consent and the company that put it there should be required to remove it on request. However, if the software was installed when the manufacturer owned the device, the law may not meet consumers' expectations.

For more information on the software installation provisions of CASL, check out my firm's FAQ on the subject.

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