• United States



by Paul Kerstein

Senate Committee Passes Spyware Bill

Nov 21, 20052 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

A U.S. Senate committee has approved a bill that would outlaw thepractice of remotely installing software that collects a computerusers’ personal information without consent.

In addition to prohibiting spyware, the Spyblock (Software PrinciplesYielding Better Levels of Consumer Knowledge) Act would also outlaw theinstallation of adware programs without a computer user’s permission.The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved thebill Thursday.

Spyblock, sponsored by Senator Conrad Burns, a Montana Republican,would prohibit hackers from remotely taking over a computer andprohibit programs that hijack Web browsers. The bill would protectantispyware software vendors from being sued by companies whosesoftware they block.

“I am pleased that a majority of the committee agrees with me thatCongress must act to protect the right of consumers to know whenpotentially dangerous Spyware is being downloaded onto theircomputers,” Burns said in a statement. “As the Spyblock Act movesforward to the Senate floor, I hope we can continue making it astronger bill by making sure the private sector has all the right toolsit needs to successfully slow the spread of malicious spyware.”

The Spyblock Act now moves to the full Senate for consideration. TheU.S. House of Representatives passed two antispyware bills in October2004 and again in May, but the Senate has so far failed to act onspyware legislation.

The Spyblock Act would allow the U.S. Federal Trade Commission andstate attorneys general to seek civil penalties against spyware andadware distributors.

By Grant Gross – IDG News Service (Washington Bureau)