With so many companies finding Windows exploits to infect computers with adware, I am wondering what the law thinks about this in the USA. Is it illegal to use an exploit to install adware files on another users computer without them knowing anything about it? And if not, why are so many big name companies getting away with it?
I'm not a lawyer, but I believe that this area of the law is underdeveloped -- that is, not many explicit laws on the books and little or no clear adjudication on what potentially relevant law there is.
There are a number of lawsuits pending in several countries that may have an affect on this area when they are decided.
Gator is a perfect example ... I went to download a Divx codec once and I noticed while reading the License agreement that Gator would also be installed, so I opted not to install the codec.
Some people never read the license agreement and then act all surprised or whine that adware/spyware is on their computer ... I mean what else do you want? It's right freaking there in the license agreement, just READ IT.
You missed the whole point of my post. I'm not talking about bundled adware with software, or any distribution of adware in which the terms are disclosed and the user has two options: proceed or stop.
I'm talking about distributing adware using exploits. Exploits are errors or loop holes within specific programs such as IE, media player, XP, etc. Companies use these exploits to install adware without your consent or knowledge.
An example would be using a exploit to install and adware system on a users computer simply by loading a few lines of code on the page. In this case there is no TOS, no agreement and the user has NO knowledge something was installed on their computer until they start seeing ads.
So my question is not whether disclosed adware bundles are illegal. It's whether using EXPLOITS to infect adware on PC's is legal.
To answer your real question then, no there is nothing that makes this SPECIFIC action illegal however it does fall under standard computer intrusion crimes. Presently in the eyes of the law it would be treated the same way as if a hacker placed or removed any other kind of file on your system.
Personally I don't think there SHOULD be any laws specific to AdWare - a crime is being committed because something is being taken from or put on your system without your knowledge. It shouldn't matter what the material is, the law should cover everything.
What companies do you know of that are doing this? You should let everyone know so they know to stay away :)