Legislating Spyware

Many in the security industry have called for consensus anti-spyware legislation in the U.S. to fully hold spyware distributors accountable for their actions, and to deter spyware vendors from violating consumers privacy.

But attempts by the U.S. Congress to pass bills targeting spyware have failed, meaning an effective, federal anti-spyware law is yet to be seen. Last spring, both the I-Spy Act (Internet Spyware Prevention Act) and the Spy Act (Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass) passed in the House of Representatives but were held up in the Senate.

Last June saw the introduction of yet another bill, the Counter Spy Act. In an attempt to improve the stalled bill and move it forward, a panel of industry experts were called on this past week to testify at a Senate committee hearing.

The FTC, a strong proponent of enforcement action, urged expanded authority to impose additional civil fines on spyware distributors - a provision included in the Counter Spy Act. If passed, it would also define activities such as creating zombie computers, launching denial-of-service attacks, and delivering endless loops of pop-up ads as illegal.

We'll keep you posted with more news on how this moves forward. In the meantime, for more information, you can read the FTCs testimony and the terms of the Counter Spy Act.