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FW: House Toughens Spyware Penalties

  • From: Nicole
  • Date: Fri Oct 08 16:36:25 2004

 It all reads ok until the latter part... shudder...


-----FW: <[email protected]>-----

Date: Fri, 08 Oct 2004 16:00:53 -0400
Sender: [email protected]
From: cybercrime-alerts <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Subject: House Toughens Spyware Penalties

October 8, 2004 
House Toughens Spyware Penalties

For the second time in three days, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed
an anti-spyware bill, this time adding criminal penalties to tough civil
provisions of legislation passed on Tuesday. 

The Internet Spyware Prevention Act of 2004 (H.R. 4661), which passed on a
415-0 vote Thursday, makes it a crime to intentionally access a computer
without authorization or to intentionally exceed authorized access. If the
unauthorized intrusion is to further another federal crime such as secretly
accessing personal data, the penalty is up to five years in prison. 

Deliberately injuring or defrauding a person or damaging a computer through the
unauthorized installation of spyware carry prison terms of up to two years. The
legislation also authorizes $10 million for the Department of Justice to combat
spyware and phishing (define) scams, although the bill does not specifically
make phishing a crime. 

"By imposing criminal penalties on these bad actors, this legislation will help
deter the use of spyware, and will thus help protect consumers from these
aggressive attacks," Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the bill's author, said in a
statement. "At the same time, the legislation leaves the door open for
innovative technology developments to continue to combat spyware programs." 

Tuesday night, the House passed legislation prohibiting unfair or deceptive
practices related to spyware. The bill, known as the Spy Act (H.R. 2929), also
requires an opt-in notice and consent form for legal software that collects
personally identifiable information from consumers. The penalties in H.R. 2929
are limited to civil fines of up to $3 million. 

Both bills now go the Senate, which has pending legislation similar to the
House bills. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas)
said earlier this week he thought the two chambers could agree on a spyware
bill before lawmakers adjourn on Friday or Saturday. 

"[We've] seen several egregious examples of spyware being used in ways that
most Americans would think clearly ought to be criminal," Ari Schwartz,
associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, said in another
statement. "The bill will help make sure there are strong deterrents to using
spyware to defraud or injure consumers." 

The two House bills are supported by a broad array of trade groups, including
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Software Alliance (BSA). "This
anti-spyware legislation ensures that criminal penalties are imposed upon those
persons who aim to harm innocent Internet users via spyware applications," said
Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of the BSA. 

Dell (Quote, Chart), eBay (Quote, Chart)>, Microsoft (Quote, Chart), Time
Warner (Quote, Chart), Yahoo (Quote, Chart) and Earthlink (Quote, Chart)
endorsed the Tuesday legislation. They did so after exemptions were added to
the bill for network monitoring for security purposes, technical support or
repair, or the detection or prevention of fraudulent activities. 

The bill also permits computer software providers to interact with a user's
computer without notice and consent in order to determine whether the computer
user is authorized to use the software upon initialization of the software or
an update of the software. 

"Every day thousands of unsuspecting Americans have their identities hijacked
by a new breed of cyber criminals because of spyware. People whose identities
have been stolen can spend months or years -- and much of their hard-earned
money -- trying to restore their good name and credit record. This legislation
will help prevent bad things from happening to good names," Rep. Lamar Smith
(R-Texas) said. 

Articles distributed for the purposes of education, discussion and review.

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