Last month I watched TV, cherishing the new CSI
run on New Zealand's TV3, when I suddenly got suspicious of a new ad they ran: There, a deep, male voice told me with an alarming undertone (accompanied by screenshots of computers and young, worried looking professionals) to update my virus software, install a firewall and always have the latest versions of my operating system
on my computer. If I wanted to know anything more, I should check out www.protectmypc.co.nz.
The whole thing was designed like a public service announcement, i.e. like the brillant ACC set of commercials warning the public to protect themselves from household accidents, so, gullible person that I am, I got curious and checked out the site. Not that I was particularly surprised when I saw that I was being transferred to http://www.microsoft.com/nz/athome/security/default.mspx , but it made me angry that I wasted 30 seconds of my time on a deceiving little ad like that. You see, my house is completely Microsoft free and the only OS's that are running at home are OS X, OpenBSD and Ubuntu Linux, so I'm not really in their target audience. If the ad would have said: "If you're a Microsoft client, please listen carefully..", but no, they had scare everybody. So, they not only misled their audience by making them assume that everybody is in danger of having a horrible security breach, but they also tried to sell some new security tools to the hapless customer (like me).
So I did the only thing you can do: I complained to New Zealand's Advertising Standards Authority, a self governing body that makes sure their members adhere to their code of practice. That same code states that
"No advertisement should be misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive the consumer."
The decision will be due any day now.
Hold your breath, cats.