Chinese internet users have criticized what they deem to be Microsoft's violation of their right to privacy.

Microsoft recently updated an anti-piracy tool to combat the widespread sale of fake software. It has not been well received by the Chinese internet community, who have flooded blogs and bulletin boards to complain the action violates their right to privacy -- with one lawyer even reporting the software giant to local security officials for "hacking."

Microsoft's new version of “Windows Genuine Advantage” turns a monitor screen's background black every hour if the installed software fails a validation test.

One angry blogger wrote on the web portal Sina.com: “The computer is mine! Microsoft has no right to control my hardware without my agreement.”

Beijing lawyer Dong Zhengwei has complained to the public security ministry, describing Microsoft as the “biggest hacker in China, with its intrusion into users' computer systems without their agreement or any judicial authority.” He told the official China Daily newspaper he believed the measure breached China's criminal law.

The China Software Industry Association said it also planned to take action against Microsoft. This is not the first time that Windows Genuine Advantage has caused problems. Microsoft was sued in June 2006 by a user who contended that the company didn't adequately disclose details of the tool when it was delivered to PC users through the company's Automatic Update system. And last summer, a Windows Genuine Advantage malfunction led some machines with legitimate software to slip into a “reduced functionality mode.”

Microsoft has argued that counterfeit programs pose a risk to information security.