Local actions coincide with initiatives to protect consumers in 70+ countries across the world on “Consumer Action Day”
In Botswana on Thursday, Microsoft announced that police had raided two software resellers in Gaborone and one in Francistown; all three are suspected of providing counterfeit software to consumers in Botswana.
The arrest in Francistown came as a result of a tip off from a customer who purchased four copies of Microsoft software at the full retail price; however, no licenses were provided. The pirate in question has been arrested.
In addition to these enforcement activities, Microsoft also hosted law enforcement training in Gaborone with four Directorate of Public Prosecution prosecutors in attendance. These trainings are designed to ensure that law enforcement officers in Botswana are armed with the necessary technical knowledge and awareness of the importance of intellectual property to ensure software piracy is tackled head on.
This announcement is part of Microsoft’s “Consumer Action Day,” – a simultaneous launch of education initiatives and enforcement actions in more than 70 countries worldwide to protect consumers and increase awareness of the risks of using counterfeit software.
The company also announced a surge of voluntary reports ÔÇô more than 150,000 in the past two years ÔÇô from people who unknowingly purchased counterfeit software that was often riddled with viruses or malware. This increase, more than double the amount of previous records, reflects growing concern for the harm caused by counterfeit software and Microsoft’s efforts to give people a voice in the fight against software piracy.
In addition to the actions and initiatives taking place in Botswana other global activities include an intellectual property rights education program in schools across China, an “originals club” for software resellers in Germany, a risk-of-counterfeit training course for the consumer protection authority in Mexico, a children’s online safety program in Greece, and a study of piracy’s impact on small and medium businesses in Argentina.
An interactive map detailing these efforts around the world today can be found at www.howtotell.com.
“Consumers want action. The enforcement cases announced today resulted from tips and reports from consumers,” said Andrew Waititu, Licensing Compliance Manager for Microsoft in East and Southern Africa.
“Consumers who are duped by fraudulent software often encounter viruses, lose personal information, risk having their identities stolen and waste valuable time and money. Today’s announcement demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to working with others, including our partners and government agencies, to protect people from the ill effects of counterfeit software,” he said.
The software industry has long studied the black market for pirated software and its effects on consumers. One study by the International Data Corporation (IDC) in 2006 showed that one in four Web sites offering counterfeit software attempted to install unwanted or malicious code upon downloading. The IDC report also described a review of counterfeit Microsoft software purchased at resellers in 17 countries: one-third of the disks could not be installed due to malware and other vulnerabilities. And, just two months ago, the October 2009 Internet Piracy Report from the Business Software Alliance (BSA) showed countries with high piracy rates often have high malware infection rates.
The effects of malware can range from annoying advertisements to a severe breach of information security. Moreover, most people simply find themselves without the software they thought they were paying for. Unable to get a refund from the dealer, consumers end up having to purchase the product all over again.
“The bottom line is that software piracy is a crime that has far-reaching consequences,” said Senior Superintendent Lazarus Moalosi of Botswana Police Service.
“Using the various tools and websites on the Internet to try and find a quick and cheap way to steal software can turn out to be detrimental and dangerous to your personal information and your business. Is this really a risk that you’re willing to take?” asks Moalosi.
Today’s actions around the world, including Botswana, emphasise Microsoft’s growing commitment to protect consumers.
On the engineering front, Microsoft has improved the product activation and validation process with Windows 7. Windows Activation Technologies in Windows 7 are built off our Software Protection Platform introduced with Windows Vista, which enables Windows to protect itself by detecting when attempts have been made to circumvent or tamper with built-in product activation technology and helps customers to easily activate the product and resolve potential issues.
Windows 7 includes the latest generation of this technology, including changes we have made so users will see more informative notification messages and be able to more easily complete the steps in the process.