Anti-Spyware Bill passes the House

As my first attempt to post a story here at SEB, here is a story near and dear to my heart… [cross posted at my Asylum]

The Spy Act, an Anti-Spyware legislation passed this morning in the House of Representatives 399-1 — HR 2929 I believe is the version of this that passed.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA) provides guidelines for technology companies that distribute software capable of most types of electronic monitoring. It requires that consumers explicitly choose to install such software and agree to the information being collected.

So now you will have to be given the option to install this crap on your computer… a good first step. This version sponsored by Rep. Bono will impose fines on companies who break the law, but another anti-spyware bill will also be coming to a vote shortly which will impose criminal penalties as well. This bill (HR 4661) is sponsored by Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA).

The chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said Goodlatte’s anti-spyware bill was preferable because of its criminal sanctions, and Barton said he will work to combine both proposals for a final vote by year’s end.

Barton acknowledged that experts had recently found more than 60 varieties of spyware installed on the panel’s own computers. He said all the spyware programs had been installed without the permission of computer users.
-Source: Yahoo! News

Rep. Bono’s bill explicitly permits software from the FBI and other ‘spy agencies’ to be installed on computers without the owner’s consent under a court order or other legal permissions affecting federal departments. (Or in the case of the Patriot Act, the whim of the Attorney General).

10 thoughts on “Anti-Spyware Bill passes the House

  1. All I can say is that I really, really hope this passes considering just last night my IE got hijacked by spyware to the point where I can’t open it. If I attempt to it simple runs in the background drawing 50% of my system resources. I attempt to run it again and it gets bad… 2 instances, 50% a piece for a total of 100% and my computer going no where fast… I’ve run webroot spyware sweeper, Spybot S&D. I’d run ad-aware but that doesn’t seem to work for me, I gets to some point and the status bar just stops moving. I’ve left it on over night and it still hasn’t moved by morning.

    It’s also annoying to have programs installed without my permission that when I choose to uninstall them asks me to take a freaking survey about the product. Oh yeah, did I mention that the survey was required before you could continue with the uninstall?…

    Like I said, I really hope this bill passes, I really can’t wait.

    P.S. Any ideas on how I can free IE from the grasp of the spyware? I have Firefox to use in the meantime, but I still like using IE. One main reason is the ability to right click-save target as. Unless Firefox has this feature (or something similar) and then just point it out and I’ll be good to go.  Well enough rambling from me for now…

  2. I seriously doubt the law will have much impact on spyware in much the same way that the anti-spam laws hasn’t impact my inbox.

    In your case it sounds like you may need to do a full restage of your PC. Backup any files you want to keep, format the harddrive, and reinstall from scratch.

  3. I’ve heard of IT helpdesks that have a Windows PC restaged when a user reports any problem at all. Second-level staff doesn’t even see the tickets unless the problem persists on a clean standard build.

    If you have the technical know-how, it’s a good idea to learn about rapid rebuilding of a Windows system from a reference image.

  4. Chief – Win Patrol is a great little program from tracking down annoying little IE helpers.  You can disable and enable programs for troubleshooting purposes directly from the GUI and determine which programs are being used to chew up your bandwidth without your knowledge.

    The main problem that I see with technology legislation is the inability of congress to understand the technology and the inability for any judicial agency to effectively enforce these laws.  It’s almost become necessary for a new branch of the police force totally directed toward technology and the exploitation thereof.

  5. If you do decide to restage your PC and you’re running Windows XP then be sure to install Service Pack 2 as the improvements to IE will go a long way to tracking down and killing IE Browser Helper Objects (BHO) that have been installed without your consent.

  6. One problem I encountered today was an adware/spyware-infected staff computer that had been restaged/upgraded from 2000 to XP|SP2.  Deleted clean and rebuilt, it should have been dandy, except…

    Roaming profiles on the Active Directory network!  The part of the registry that nestles safe from rebuilds in the roaming profile (to save the user from a jarring difference when logging onto a different computer) also protected the adware/spyware.  Within 2 minutes it was loaded with spyware, SP2 or not.

    So in the morning we’ll run Ad Aware on his machine a couple times to clear out the local profile (network cable unplugged) as the roaming profile is nuked.  Then the system will be plugged in again and (theoretically) the now-clean profile will upload from the machine to the network and all will be well.  We think.

    I asked if I could put Firefox on his computer – not allowed.  “Too hard to support.”  (Huh?)

    Lock his machine down until he can only move the mouse on alternate Sundays?  Can’t – Academic Freedom Issues.  (Huh?)

    OK, I’m done griping about work now. I installed a second hard drive on my home computer and do routine system-state backups onto it (in addition to a complete backup).  At least it keeps me out of the pool halls. (trouble right here in River City!)

  7. “They say we’re young and we don’t know
    We won’t find out until we grow
    Well I don’t know if all that’s true
    ‘Cause you got me, and baby I got you

    Babe
    I got you babe I got you babe”

    Perhaps she was singing about not knowing and not finding out about spyware? And how they got you? Love is a metaphor for spyware. For it sneeks in unaware and suddenly you find that you have to dedicate a significant portion of your system resources to work with it. And after some time just like the product of love would a child, the spyware may send out its own little child to other computers. Or what about the show Groundhog day and the hopeless cycle one is caught in knowing that whatever one do it would not matter as spyware makers would circumvent it. After all there are laws on virus spreading but you do not see number of virus declining.

  8. Sorry, was busy as hell yesterday @ work putting out fires … remember … only you can prevent IT Security Fires … use Linux or a Mac smile

    But seriously …

    The main problem that I see with technology legislation is the inability of congress to understand the technology and the inability for any judicial agency to effectively enforce these laws.  It’s almost become necessary for a new branch of the police force totally directed toward technology and the exploitation thereof.

    DS, I tend to agree with you, but the fact that it took congress about 10 years to realize SPAM is a problem and put out a stupid pointless law, but only took about 2 years for spyware is progress wink

    I do think the alternative bill that imposes jail time in addition to fines would be a good start … will it end spyware? Nope, but it may stem the tide a bit … all we can hope for unless your police force is created (I nominate DS for Technology Police Czar, with Les as consigliari …er … undersecretary grin )

  9. John,

    Rep. Bono’s bill explicitly permits software from the FBI and other ‘spy agencies’ to be installed on computers without the owner’s consent under a court order or other legal permissions affecting federal departments. (Or in the case of the Patriot Act, the whim of the Attorney General).

    Fuck that shit! 

    deadscot,

    The main problem that I see with technology legislation is the inability of congress to understand the technology and the inability for any judicial agency to effectively enforce these laws.  It’s almost become necessary for a new branch of the police force totally directed toward technology and the exploitation thereof.

    I agree with both comments.  That special police force would certainly provide job opportunities for all the IT folks whose jobs went overseas!

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