The Church Spyware Scandal

Dennis Faas's picture

Has the Church of England been turned upside down by a Spyware scandal? It sure seemed that way when a computer program called Visual Liturgy was identified as Spyware by Norton Antivirus.

The liturgy-creation software is essential for vicars who depend on it to help them map out church services. But all hell broke loose when Norton incorrectly flagged "vlutils.dll" as Spyware and instructed users to erase it. That's because it's actually a crucial Visual Liturgy file. Without it, the program won't work.

Church House Publishing, the makers of Visual Liturgy, said it took Symantec (Norton) nearly a month to correct the problem.

"Either they are getting far too many false positives, or they are very slow at sorting them out," stated David Green, Church House's outgoing new media manager. "It took four weeks to sort this out. For a software publisher, that's...a lot of support calls and reputational damage while they sort out their mistake." (Source:

The antivirus company, however, said that it addressed the issue on July 11 -- only one day after it was first reported.

Green issued a statement refuting that claim: "We have no record of any such email." Of course, it's possible that Symantec's message was deleted by spam filters -- but Green said that's not to blame either. "We recognize that while spam filters may have blocked their response or we may have dropped the ball in the communication process, we have checked our systems and can still find no record."

Symantec eventually showed Church House a copy of the July 11th message. "Even so," the makers of Visual Liturgy said on its website, "we can see no indication in that email that they were confirming the issue was fixed at that point." (Source:

Green promises that church funds won't be wasted on a lawsuit against Symantec -- but the antivirus vendor is welcome to "make a donation," he said. (Source:

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