[Dshield] The SPYBLOCK Act

Andy Stevko andy.stevko at usa.net
Mon Mar 15 19:34:46 GMT 2004

I got the notice below from my senator about new federal legislation to 
prohibit the installation of spyware without the user's consent. My only 
concern about this is the ability of the FTC to enforce such an act.
-- Andy Stevko


Dear Friend:

I recently joined my colleagues, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden
(D-Ore.) and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) in introducing legislation
to better protect the privacy of American computer users. Our
bill would prohibit spyware, adware, and other invasive
software from being secretly installed on Americans' computers. 

Our 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
user's knowledge, transmitting information about computer usage
and generating pop-up advertisements.  Frequently such software
is designed to be virtually impossible to uninstall.
This legislation will give consumers control over the programs
that are downloaded onto their computers.  As more and more
people use the Internet, privacy violations become a greater
threat, and we want to give computer users the power to protect
themselves from spyware and other hazardous software.
The bill also prohibits programs designed to trick users about
who is responsible for content a user sees, such as causing a
counterfeit replica of a company's Web site to appear whenever
the consumer attempts to navigate toward a legitimate company's
Web site.  These types of programs have been used to
fraudulently obtain personal financial information from users
confused by dummy Web sites.
The bill would be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) and state attorneys general.  The FTC could impose
penalties just as it does for unfair and deceptive practices,
including cease-and-desist orders and civil fines.  State
attorneys general could bring suits seeking injunctions, plus
damages or other relief.
People who use computers need to have a better sense that their
private information and their computers are protected.  Our
bill aims to do just that.  If you have any questions or
comments about this or any other federal matter, I invite you
to contact me at http://boxer.senate.gov/contact/webform.cfm . 


Barbara Boxer
United States Senator


For more information on Senator Boxer's record and other
information, please go to: http://boxer.senate.gov

If you would like to make a comment regarding this or any other
federal matter, please feel free to do so at: 

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