Two of the biggest names in the world of anti-virus software, Symantec and McAfee, have agreed to pay $375,000 (£228,000) each after admitting to misleading customers.
As reported by vnunet.com
, the fines come as a result of a case brought by New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo who took umbrage with the companies' practice of automatically renewing subscriptions to software updates and virus definitions.
The pair stood accused of automatically resubscribing both corporate and retail users at the end of their initial term without their informed consent, and of unilaterally changing the terms and conditions of the contract between customer and company. Despite the companies claiming that the fact of the subscription renewing was spelled out in the terms and conditions supplied with the software, Cuomo claimed that this wasn't' made obvious enough.
Cuomo accused both companies of playing “hide the ball when it comes to the fees consumers are being charged,
” and said that “consumers have a right to know what they are paying, especially when they are unwittingly agreeing to renewal fees that will not appear on their credit card bill for months.
Speaking of his victory, Cuomo stated that the ruling against McAfee and Symantec will force the companies “to be clear and upfront with customers when it comes to renewal fees,
” along with enforcing a no-quibble sixty day refund policy should a subscription be cancelled. Both companies will also be made to send out written warnings both before a subscription renewal takes place, and after – within the 60 day cancellation perioid.
Do you hail this move as an end to the shady practices of auto-renewing subscriptions, or has Cuomo just made it harder for individuals to ensure they are adequately and continuously protected against the ravages of web-borne malware? Share your thoughts over in the forums