May 11, 2005 5:05 PM PDT

Senators push for anti-spyware law

Congress didn't quite get around to approving an anti-spyware bill last year--it died while awaiting a Senate floor vote.

Now members of the Senate Commerce Committee are promising to avoid a repeat of last year's lapse. During a hearing Wednesday, politicians said spyware was a growing threat that required prompt action by Congress.

These are "insidious programs that install themselves on users' computers," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. "It's hard to use analogies with this, but it's sort of like somebody walking around your house, kind of invisibly."

Boxer acknowledged that the Federal Trade Commission already has been suing alleged spyware distributors, but said: "I think we have to do more than that. Clearly it's still going on, even though there have been lawsuits filed."

It's not clear, though, how much a new federal law can accomplish. The Can-Spam Act of 2003 hasn't exactly eliminated junk e-mail so far, and both the FTC and the Justice Department say they already have the power to investigate and punish the worst offenders. Also, no U.S. law can hope to reach offshore Web sites.

"The last major effort we made was with respect to spam, and this is a much more serious problem," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. "With spam you can hit the delete button. With this stuff it crashes your system."

If a federal spyware measure does clear Congress this year, technology and advertising companies are hoping to ensure that it will pre-empt state laws and set a uniform national rule.

"A national platform for legitimate businesses to work from" is necessary, Trevor Hughes of the Network Advertising Initiative--a consortium of large Internet advertisers--told the Senate panel on Wednesday. "Any legislation must be focused on the behavior of spyware, and that is fraud and deception."


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Support our Government against Spyware/Adware
To all of my fellow computer users that have been affected by
spyware/adware programs that are causing massive problems
for every computer user on the internet.
These spyware/adware programs have given me a major run for
my computer skills and money because of the way they are
I am telling you that this is a major problem for the highly
advanced user like myself but I'm more concerned with the user
like mother and other people that are just looking to enjoy their
online time without having to worry about somebody inserting
code that causes all kinds of serious problems to thier computer
systems and then have to find a PC Tech to repair their problem.
Our government is trying to stop these greedy companies from
taking advantage of the people that don't have a son like me to
repair all their PC problems for free.

Please write a letter to your congreeman about this very real
problem that is just getting out of hand and will get only worse
as time goes by.

There are people out there that can't afford a PC Repair person
to always come out and fix their computer because it's either too
much money or they down't have the money to repair it.
I do a lot of work for free because I know how it is.

There was a time when the internet was a place where you could
ask any online user for something or information needed or
wanted and would get a hundred different users helping you out
with the answer for free.
Those days are long gone because everybody now wants to
charge you for everything now.

I've been online for 22 years and now when I go online I have a
whole arsonal of programs scanning for all kinds of hackers,
spyware, viruses, adware, and many others.
It's like walking through New York City's old 42nd Street when it
was all dirty and nasty, and full of criminals looking to get you
one way or the other.

Take care.


Look out for eachother insted of trying to screw one another.
Posted by Nino Nice (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You can still get free help
There are literally hundreds of boards/newsgroups where you can discuss just about any topic under the sun and among those there are still a great multitude of people who will help you with problems. You need only ask.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
SpyWare and Ad-Ware
I seriously do hope for real and effective legislation against Internet Advertisers and Marketers here. Advertising and Marketing companies in general seem to have no problem, whatsoever, being as rude and obnoxious as possible. It's only logical that Marketing firms move into identity theft.

Legislation can make a difference. The Telemarketing Do-Not-Call laws have improved the quality of life for many. Consumer action is also needed.

- Pull investments from any companies that fund or develop SpyWare, Ad-Ware Spam and other types of Scum-Ware.

- Boycott any product or service advertised via Scum-Ware. Also write the companies and tell them how sick and tired you are of advertising that treats people with absolutely no human consideration what-so-ever.

- Orchestrate an "Internet - Tune-Out Week" Orchestrate an "Internet - Tune-Out Month"

A real back-lask is on the way and Marketing Firms are the enemy.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
There's only one way to make it work...
Unless Congress miraculously chooses to protect consumers over business interests, this law will not succeed.

But if you have advertising/marketing lobbyists gutting the bill, it's pointless.

The law needs to be clear.

A short (one or two sentence) statement telling the user what is being installed and what it will do needs to be presented to the enduser BEFORE any part of the software package begins to download or install.

Then once installed, the software needs to be able to remove itself and every trace of itself via normal mechanisms (the add/remove programs area in the control panel or an uninstall command).

Finally, the enduser needs to be able to see, in plain english, exactly what data is being sent back to the mothership.

This holds for malware, tracking gifs/web bugs/cookies, and even toolbars like ask jeeves.

Otherwise, the law is useless.
Posted by jachamp (84 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hey John and fellow user's.

I understand what your saying and how you feel about the
whole Government situation but in case you haven't heard. The
company called Intermix was just hit with a multi-million dollar
fine for their embedding the malware codes bundled with their
free software and the fine was something like 7.6 Million or
something like that!
Remember John, that before something can become big it first
starts out small and may take a little time.
But as with everybody else?

Once they become affected by these pain in the butt spyware/
adware programs. Then will things move along much faster.
The Government is really picking up speed.

Read The Amended (Bill Summary: H.R.29)
Bill Summary & Status for the 109th Congress concerning the
Cyber Trespass Act or Spy Act.

Take Care
Posted by Nino Nice (22 comments )
Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.