What is the Government Doing to Keep Users Safe Online? - House Says “No” to Spyware
(Page 4 of 4 )
Spyware is a silent menace, at least when it first finds it way onto a computer. It might creep onto your system through a virus, or piggybacking along with a free program you downloaded from the Internet. Once spyware is on your system, it can use up your computing power, crash your PC or send you more unwanted ads than you can shake a mouse at.
Those are just the relatively harmless effects of spyware. If it was sent by a truly malicious hacker, spyware can be used to commit identity theft. Keylogging programs can capture your passwords, account numbers and other sensitive information, and send it to the scam artist.
Government representatives get as much spyware as anyone, apparently. The U.S. House of Representatives just passed two bills related to spyware. The first, HR 29, the “Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act” (SPY ACT), was approved by a vote of 393-4. The bill prohibits hijacking a computer’s home page, keystroke logging, and sending ads that cannot be closed except by shutting down the computer. It also requires a prominent opt-in for consumers before they execute any monitoring software on their computer, and that such monitoring software be easily disabled at the consumer’s direction. If the bill becomes law, the FTC would be given the authority to enforce monetary penalties against those who knowingly violate the Act.
The second bill passed by the House was HR 744, the “Internet Spy Protection Act,” by an even more overwhelming majority of 395-1. Approved by the House Judiciary Committee the previous week, criminalizes some of the most egregious offenses conducted with spyware. These include intentionally accessing a computer without authorization, or intentionally exceeding authorized access, by causing a computer program or code to be copied onto the computer and using that program or code to:
- Further another federal criminal offense (punishable by fine or imprisonment for up to five years).
- Intentionally obtain or transmit “personal information” with the intent of injuring or defrauding a person or damaging a computer (punishable by fine or imprisonment for up to two years).
- Intentionally impair the security protections of a computer (punishable by fine or imprisonment for up to two years).
The legislation also authorizes $10 million to the Department of Justice to combat spyware and phishing scams. Both of these bills still need to go to the Senate for approval.
| DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware. |