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The nation is one step closer to having a Federal anti-spyware law, and all odds point to it becoming a reality before the year is out. At this very moment the House is working with two proposed anti-spyware laws, I-SPY (the Internet Spyware Prevention Act of 2005), and the SPY (Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass) Act.
I-SPY is quite simple – if you access someone’s computer without authorization, and use that unauthorized access to transmit their personal information for the purposes of fraud or damaging a computer, or to commit a crime, you go to jail.
The SPY Act is much more complicated, and looks at things like requiring a user to opt-in to the software being downloaded. The problem with this is that it means very clearly defining things like “opt-in”, “software”, and heck, even “download”.
It is interesting to note that we are exactly where we were two years ago, with the rush to get something – anything – in place as a Federal anti-spam law. Then as now there were two competing House bills, a Senate which had previously been fairly inactive, and every reason to think now that something – anything – is going to get passed. With CAN-SPAM it was the newly passed California anti-spam law nipping at their heels. With the anti-spyware law, it is the industry and consumer clamour for relief.
The smart thing to do would be to pass the simpler law, I-SPY, now, use that as a bright line in the sand, and then take the time to refine and clarify a SPY Act type of law. Otherwise we will end up with another CAN-SPAM – not as strong as it could be, and needing constant clarification.
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