Computer Crime Research Center


U.S. House Passes Anti-Spyware Bill

Date: October 08, 2004
Source: e-Week
By: Wayne Rash

WASHINGTON–The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would make spyware illegal–and provide stiff sanctions for anyone found breaking that law.

The bipartisan Internet Spyware (I-SPY) Prevention Act of 2004, passed by a vote of 415-0, is intended to punish spyware without placing undue burdens on legitimate uses of the same or similar technology. The bill, H.R. 4661, was sponsored by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

"This is important for maintaining the confidence of consumers when they're using the Internet," Goodlatte said, noting that users are now besieged by waves of spam, phishing schemes and pornography in addition to spyware. And Goodlatte said today's laws aren't much help. "It's not clear under current law what's legal," he said.

The new law would make a number of spyware spreaders' actions illegal. Those actions include accessing a computer without authorization or intentionally exceeding authorized access.

In addition, the law would make it a crime to cause computer code or programs to be copied onto a computer to further another federal offense; to perform identity theft; or to impair the security protections of the computer. Penalties for breaking the law would run from two to five years in prison, in addition to fines.

In addition to the penalties, the I-SPY bill allocates $10 million to the Department of Justice to combat spyware and phishing scams. "We need strong sanctions," Goodlatte said in describing the penalties.

Now that the bill has passed the House, the next step is taking it to the U.S. Senate. "There's a good deal of interest in the Senate," Goodlatte said, stressing the importance of throwing the book at the bad guys while not impacting legitimate uses of similar technologies.

He said the bill avoids overregulation, a concept to which the Senate is also receptive. It's not clear at this point whether the president would be willing sign the bill, Goodlatte said, but he thinks the White House will find it acceptable. "It's a compatible approach" to what the thinking is there, he said.
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2004-10-11 00:06:56 - Great ! It's about time. Anyone know... Kevin DeLong
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