March 01, 2004

Anti-Spyware Legislation Introduced

From the press release:

"U.S. Senators Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), today introduced legislation to prohibit spyware, adware, and other invasive software from being secretly installed on Americansí computers. For the first time, the SPYBLOCK (Software Principles Yielding Better Levels of Consumer Knowledge) Act would prohibit installing software on somebody else's computer without notice and consent, and requires reasonable "uninstall" procedures for all downloadable software. Spyware, adware and other hidden programs often secretly piggyback on downloaded Internet software without the userís knowledge, transmitting information about computer usage and generating pop-up advertisements. Frequently such software is designed to be virtually impossible to uninstall."
Amen to that. While I heartily applaud their efforts, I also have similiar concerns regarding this legislation that I had for the CAN-SPAM Act, which I enumerated here and here. It may provide relief against U.S.-based malware developers, but what about internationally-hosted software? At least some recourse against American companies may be better than none. For that I applaud the senators for trying to do something about it and protect the end users from some of the more insidious practices.

Lest my bias be misunderstood, I'm acknowledging that some adware/spyware may be beneficial. For example, someone who can't afford an expensive commercial program may find their needs met by an adware-supported free download. As long as there's informed consent, and the adware is easily and fully removable when the person no longer wants to use the ad-sponsored software, then that's the person's free choice and they shouldn't complain. As long as they know about it, then people are free to vote with their mice, and program authors should get paid for their work if it's on the up an up. In other words, there's some quid pro quo by consent. I'm really referring to the malware that surreptitiously installs itself as a parasite accompanied with other desired software or under other false pretenses.

[Thanks to beSpacific for the link.]

Topic(s):   Privacy & Security
Posted by Jeff Beard

I am personally inundated constantly with spyware from unscrupulous advertisers who force install software, which I thought was illegal, into my computer, which I had to buy software to get rid of, some of the people who design anti-spyware software are the ones who build the spyware programs so they can sell you software to get rid of them. My most recent is from and don't go onto their website, I warn you. I think they are blatantly ruining some people's computers and should be financially responsible for doing so. What is the big question about that?

Posted by: Steve Walker at April 24, 2004 03:10 AM