updated 04:35 pm EDT, Tue May 22, 2007
US Anti-Spyware Bill
The US Congress today approved a new anti-spyware bill that it hopes will combat the most dangerous kinds of the web-based code. Sponsored by California Democrat Zoe Lofgren, the legislation would outlaw any program that installs itself without permission to commit fraud, such as stealing credit card information or otherwise misrepresenting users through the computer. Those found guilty under the new terms could be sent to prison for up to five years, according to the bill.
However, the bill neglects a key complaint about spyware, according to critics. Lofgren's law would absolve developers of the need to ask for permission from users to install software, which could allow many less damaging instances of spyware continue to operate within the law. This limitation of the bill is necessary to avoid burdening honest software, says Lofgren.
"Focusing on bad actors and criminal conduct is preferable to an approach that criminalizes technology or imposes notice- or consent-type requirements," she said. A rival proposal from the Energy and Commerce Committee would have included the terms.
The measure will require approval from the Senate and President before it takes effect.