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House passes restrictive anti-spyware bill
Published: 2007-06-07

The U.S. House of Representatives passed on Wednesday a second bill aimed at restricting the actions of spyware purveyors and online data thieves, but many government and industry executives have argued that more regulations are not necessary.

The bill, whose full title is the Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass (SPY) Act (H.R. 964), would levy harsh penalties against those people or companies that use software to take control of a person's computer to send spam, leak information, or create a bot net, or that modifies the computer's settings. The act is the second piece of anti-spyware legislation to pass the House in the last month -- in late May, legislators gave the go-ahead to the Internet Spyware Prevention (I-SPY) Act. Both bills are now headed for the Senate.

Online advertisers and Web sites that rely on advertising revenue have voiced concerns with the latest legislation to pass the House. A group of Web sites, including Google and CNET Networks, that rely on interactive advertising have lobbied for nearly a dozen changes (PDF) to the bill. The Information Technology Association of America, the American Bankers Association and the Interactive Advertising Bureau have all favored the I-SPY Act over the SPY Act, stated an CNET article.

Other critics have noted that spyware is already illegal in the U.S. under previously passed cybercrime statutes. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has filed civil lawsuits against spyware fraudsters and the U.S. Department of Justice and states have prosecuted more egregious cases.

The U.S. Senate has rejected spyware legislation that passed the House in 2004 and 2005.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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