Spyware Bills Pass House

NEW YORK The House of Representatives passed two separate bills aimed at spyware, leaving it up to the Senate to decide which approach to take.

The Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act, passed 393-4, requires that software makers get users’ permission before downloading software on their computers. The bill is aimed at both spyware and adware programs that do not get consent during downloading. Many forms of spyware and adware are used to show pop-up ads based on a users’ Web behavior.

The House also passed the Internet Spyware Prevention Act by a 395-1 vote. That bill calls for hefty fines and possible prison terms for those who use software to gain control of a computer to acquire personal information.

The problem of spyware has generated attention from legislators and regulators, who compare the problem to spam. The Federal Trade Commission last year filed its first spyware-related case, accusing a New Hampshire company of distributing ad-supported spyware.

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer earlier this month filed a lawsuit against Intermix, a Los Angeles Internet company for allegedly downloading pop-up ad software on 3.7 million New Yorkers’ computers without their permission. Spitzer’s office, which used the state’s law against deceptive business practices in the Intermix suit, has said it will continue to investigate practices across the industry.