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Regulator takes Norton to court in ‘unprecedented’ consumer protection case

Jamie Harris, PA Science Technology Reporter
·2-min read

Antivirus software maker Norton is being taken to court by the UK’s competition regulator over claims it refused to provide certain information requested for an investigation.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says the “unprecedented decision” comes after the firm failed to provide some details about research it had carried out on how customers responded to website information on auto-renewal and pricing.

Norton – which provides a number of leading antivirus and malware software products – is being investigated over concerns that its terms and practices for automatically renewing contracts could lead to customers paying for services they no longer want or need.

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The CMA started probing the antivirus software sector in November 2018, scrutinising whether Norton provides enough information that a contract will automatically renew.

It is also examining whether customers are presented with adequate ways to cancel and price promotions.

The CMA said it considers the withholding of such data to be a breach of Norton’s legal obligations.

It is the first time the regulator has had to go through the courts in a consumer protection case.

“It is completely unacceptable that a leading antivirus software firm has refused to supply all the information we asked for, which is why we’re taking the firm to court,” said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA.

“Our unprecedented decision in this case reflects the serious impact of Norton’s refusal, which is delaying a CMA investigation intended to protect UK consumers.”

A spokesperson for NortonLifeLock said: “NortonLifeLock is co-operating with this ongoing investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority.

“We take these claims seriously and remain confident that our business practices and terms and conditions are fair and compliant with UK consumer law. We look forward to resolving this matter.”