Defeated in Oklahoma, spyware bill up for federal passage

Federal legislation that claims to protect citizens from malicious programming but may actually empower large computer software companies to do just that has been introduced to the U.S. Congress, records show.

HR 964 " or the "Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act," the "SPY ACT" " "will still allow any vendor you do business with on your computer to utilize any of the deceptive practices the bill prohibits and load spyware on your computer," wrote online computer privacy specialist Jason Dick. "The law also makes exceptions and specifically protects computer manufacturers from any liability for spyware they load on your computer before you buy."

The bill was passed by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee and co-sponsored by California Republican Mary Bono, widow of singer and U.S. Rep. Sonny Bono.

Like the failed Oklahoma bill, HR 964 also appears:
" to allow companies to search anyone's computer for fraudulent activities,
" would indemnify large software or Internet providers against any damage they might cause a user's computer or stored information while doing so, and
" would remove the ability of individual users to sue anyone for such damage or identity theft.

"This may be the most disturbing aspect of the bill, as it eliminates the ability of individuals to bring spyware suits against companies (that) have victimized them," Dick wrote.

Microsoft Corp. lobbyist Andrew Wise pushed heavily in Oklahoma for passage of the bill. Oklahoma Republican Rep. Mike Reynolds said he strongly suspects the same money is behind the proposed federal law.  "Ben Fenwick

  • or