Security Firm: Sony CDs Secretly Install Spyware

Company denies allegations, saying program aims to foil music piracy By Hiawatha Bray, Globe Staff

Sony is spying on thousands of listeners who buy and play its music CDs on their computers, a leading computer security firm said yesterday.

Computer Associates International Inc. said that new anticopying software Sony is using to discourage pirating of its music also secretly collects information from any computer that plays the discs.

One of the world's largest software and information technology companies, Computer Associates is the latest to wade into the growing controversy over Sony's efforts to curb theft and illegal pirating of its music.

The software works only on computers running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system. It limits listeners' ability to copy the music onto their computers, and locks copied files so they cannot be freely distributed over the Internet.

But Computer Associates said the antipirating software also secretly communicates with Sony over the Internet when listeners play the discs on computers that have an Internet connection. The software uses this connection to transmit the name of the CD being played to an office of Sony's music division in Cary, N.C. The software also transmits the IP address of the listener's computer, Computer Associates said, but not the name of the listener. But Sony can still use the data to create a profile of a listener's music collection, according to Computer Associates.

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Another article in this issue of the Digest tells about Grokster going out of business (as it is) and planning to reopen in a new format; one user says that will be spying also. PAT]

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Monty Solomon
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