Anti-Spyware Bill Hits Congress

Gretchen Gallen
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress is currently reviewing legislation that would outlaw spyware and adware. According to reports, the bill was scribed by Senators Conrad Burns, Ron Wyden, and Barbara Boxer, the threesome that first introduced the Can-Spam Act of 2004.

Spyware typically harvests information on certain users as they surf the web, and adware launches pop-up ads.

The bill aims to outlaw all "invasive" software from being secretly installed on computers via other software downloads. Statistics state that 90 percent of all broadband users have had spyware or adware secretly downloaded onto their computers. Many peer-to-peer software downloads come bundled with spyware.

The bill would also outlaw programs that are designed to mislead users as to the origin of the content they are viewing.

The new legislation is being called Spyblock (Software Principles Yielding Better Levels of Consumer Knowledge). According to Internet.com, the bill has not yet been reviewed by members of congress, but if passed, it would be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the state attorneys general.

According to Internet.com, Spyblock would require that the user be informed, via a dialog box, that spyware has been downloaded onto their system, giving them a choice to either block it or accept it.

Under Spyblock, the FTC would penalize the makers of spyware and adware programs with cease-and-desist orders and civil fines. State attorneys will have the power to file lawsuits seeking injunctions and damages against spyware makers.

According to Internet.com, there have been two previous attempts to put a stop to the spread of spyware, one such bill was introduced by Sen. John Edwards in 2000, and there was another bill in 2001. Both bills failed to make it past the hearings process in the senate.