On February 27th, 2004, three United States Senators introduced legislation that, if passed, will go a long way towards making the Internet safe again.
The bill, introduced as S.2145, is intended "To regulate the unauthorized installation of computer software, to require clear disclosure to computer users of certain computer software features that may pose a threat to user privacy, and for other purposes."
The bill, formally known as the "Software Principles Yielding Better Levels of Consumer Knowledge Act, was sponsored by one Republican Senator (Conrad Burns, R-Mont.), and two democrats (Ron Wyden D-Ore.and Barbara Boxer D-Calif,.) "would prohibit installing software on somebody else's computer without notice and consent, and requires reasonable "uninstall" procedures for all downloadable software." The press release goes on to say "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."
The Spyware industry has grown into a multi-million per year business. Spyware almost always functions without the consumer's "informed knowledge" and gathers information that the consumer would most likely not want to divulge. In some cases,settings are changed on the consumer's computer without their knowledge and can lead to real damages in terms of time and productivity lost. Spyware is no longer just a consumer issue, but has invaded corporations. Moreover, because Spyware by definition must "phone home" to report, it creates security breeches, preventing anti-virus and even firewall programs from working. It is as bad as a virus or internet worm. The difference is that, without the Spyblock Act, viruses and worms are illegal, but Spyware is highly profitable.
It is not enough to include information in the fine print of a EULA. Anti-spyware programs, like anti-virus and firewall programs, are available but do not address the problem. The situation, in my not so humble opinion, requires legislative relief. Just as we have seen the first arrests under the Can Spam law, we need to see the practice of creating and distributing this harmful software made illegal.
If you agree and want to take action, you can contact your Congressman from the following link and let them know that you consider the SPYBLOCK Act important. Link: http://capwiz.com/congressorg/home/