Sunday, May 29, 2005

Spyware Bill Approved by House of Representatives

This appears to be a story that has received little attention from the media. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to introduce harsher penalties on those who spread "spyware" on our computer systems. Two bills introduced recommend large fines and prison sentences.

"Spyware" are programs injected (via e-mail and websites) into our computer systems, which are designed to record our browsing habits and sometimes lead to "phishing scams", where the intent is "identity theft". The bill would require permission to be obtained before "spyware" can be placed on a computer. Interestingly enough, these programs are used by a lot of so called legitimate companies. In my opinion, they are also very annoying. A recent survey revealed that 90 percent of the computers out there are infected with these programs.

There are a lot of programs out there to detect "spyware", such as Spybot and Adaware. Webroot and Symantec also have programs.

Spybot is free and can be found at:

It's a shame this is getting little press. At a minimum, it is of great annoyance when used by advertisers, it also helps support criminal activity.

Here is an earlier post on Phishing. At the bottom is a link for a free tool bar designed to detect sites where criminals are "phishing and pharming" for information to steal identities. This comes compliments of the Netcraft Toolbar Community, which does a lot of good work in identifying these sites.

I would recommend supporting this by dropping a note to Congress. These bills are bound to be opposed by "Lobbyists", who represent legal corporations that use this technology to market their products. Even when it is for so called "legitimate use", it is an intrusion into our privacy and damages computer systems. These are systems, we spend our hard earned money on. In addition to this, it allows criminals to victimize individuals in what is considered the fastest growing crime of the century, identity theft. Here is a site where you can find the information to write your local representatives:

Parliment in the United Kingdom is also considering legislation to tighten up the laws on phishing and other computer crimes. Here is a story:

Here is a site where our friends in the United Kingdom can write Parliment and show their support:

There are many more posts on Phishing and even Keyloggers on this blog. If you are interested go to the search box, either at the top or the bottom of this page and search for the relevant subject.

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