Yeah, right. This is the US House of Representatives. They are here to protect us!
What is unsaid, of course, is exactly how Representative Dingell plans to apprehend the purveyors of spyware, and how he is going to fine some company operating out of Gibraltar?
"Protecting Internet users from dangerous programs that steal consumers' identities, invade their software or just plain harass them is a top priority," said Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, chairman of the full committee.
The bill would require software distributors and advertisers to clearly notify and obtain consent from consumers before their programs can be loaded onto a computer. Violators could be fined up to $3 million for each unfair or deceptive act.
Don't get me wrong, spyware is evil and the companies that produce it need to be put out of business. The inviduals who write this stuff need to have their nether regions removed by force. Ask me how I really feel about this. Still, I am inherently suspicious of any legistion that is supported by Dingell.
A look at the committee press release is equally scary based on some of the language they use:
Today, the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection approved H.R. 964, the “Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act”, by voice vote in its first bill markup of the 110th Congress. The bill, also known as the Spy Act, is designed to protect consumers from harmful and intrusive programs known as “spyware” that can harvest personal data, damage computer software and disrupt Web usage.The TJX breach is the security failure at the parent company of retailer TJ Maxx (and others) in which a substantial number of debit and credit card numbers were compromised. Of course, when the congresscritters fail to mention is that the comany should not have been storing that information in the first place -- but we won't go there now.
If passed, the Spy Act will shield Internet users from under-the-radar spyware programs that can secretly invade their computers and monitor their online activity. Some of these programs steal personally identifiable information, such as addresses, telephone numbers or even credit card account information. Other programs send repeated intrusive and aggressive advertisements, require consumers to download software or redirect users to Web pages against their will.
“An informed consumer is a powerful consumer. Too often, the average citizen is unaware of the litany of scams and con-jobs that infest the marketplace. We must stop the scourge of identity theft and related abuse. The Spy Act is a pivotal first step,” said Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. “Data breaches continue at a rapid pace and constitute a major threat to consumers. Next month the subcommittee will examine the astonishing breach at TJX to key up this issue. We must pass comprehensive data security legislation this year.”