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FTC Seeks Anti-Spyware Authority 63

Posted by samzenpus
from the that-should-fix-things dept.
Zyxwvut writes "The FTC is seeking more legal authority to go after spyware vendors, and Congress has passed a few bills to support them, but the Senate is ignoring them. While the FTC has prosecuted a few of the largest spyware makers, most of them fly under the radar because the FTC has to meet very stringent legal standards before they can do anything."
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FTC Seeks Anti-Spyware Authority

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  • YES! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668)
    It's a miracle! Not that they're finally going after spyware, but that some congressmen actually started using the internet and found out what kind of crap you can catch on your computer from it! Yay! I've been waiting for aggressive antispyware legistlation practically since the internet was invented. I really don't care if it puts me out of a job (in home repairer)
  • by ealar dlanvuli (523604) <froggie6@mchsi.com> on Thursday November 01, 2007 @08:06AM (#21194793) Homepage
    "Essentially, the FTC wants the ability to impose fines that are not directly tied to consumer loss or company profit."

    I can see this ending very well for the consumers.
    • by Culture20 (968837)

      "Essentially, the FTC wants the ability to impose fines that are not directly tied to consumer loss or company profit."

      Actually, this would help to dry up several "IT" positions (a la geek-squad). Also, I know companies are less profitable because of spyware a place I worked at had at least 60 machines reimaged a month because of spyware alone, and that's not counting the machines that were left on the floor after a "successful" cleaning with adaware or spybot.
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @08:11AM (#21194835) Journal

    Congress has passed a few bills to support them, but the Senate is ignoring them
    Congress contains the Senate. The House of Representatives has passed a few bills, not Congress as a whole. If Congress had passed a few bills, all that would be left would be Presidential approval.

    The reason I mention this is that the House passes lots of bills that never are passed by the Senate. Sometimes the Senate will pass their own version of a bill, and send it back to the House. This is why we have a bicameral legislature -- so that one legislative body can't pass laws by itself. It's a check within a division of the federal government, and serves a useful purpose.
    • Sadly, that check is long since past its prime since the method of electing senators was changed.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Of all the amendments to attack, you chose the 17th?

        I mean, I've heard the reasoning against direct election before, but it's much closer to the 3rd Amendment than the 2nd on the scale of political and popular uproar.

    • No it does not really serve any purpose, and any "checks" that you might see there were not directly intentional and probably put there as a hack to make the system at least function.

      If you dig deep into your high school memories, you may recall that they split of congress was a compromise between the big/little states that could not agree if the # of reps per state should be based on population or be a set number. It was originally intended to only have one group in the legislature.
      • Moderating the influence of urban areas over rural areas seems like a check to me.
        • The eternal argument continues! It's just a matter of opinion I suppose.
          The ironic thing, of course, is that the "big" states at the time are now "little" states compared to those in the west, so they would have been better off sticking with the X number per state idea...
      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @09:35AM (#21195625) Journal

        you may recall that they split of congress was a compromise between the big/little states that could not agree if the # of reps per state should be based on population or be a set number.
        While the debate between how the # of reps did affect the system we ended up with, the concept of a bicameral legislature was older than that debate. England had a bicameral system in the 17th century, for example.

        It was originally intended to only have one group in the legislature.
        I think you might want to reread your history. There was never a unified 'intent' to have a unicameral legislature. The majority of framers understood the need for a bicameral institution, but were faced with the problem that they did not want an aristocratic house (like the British House of Lords). One fix would have been a single house, as with the NJ plan. Another fix, the one ultimately accepted, was to find another way of assigning the different houses.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      It's probably an artifact of the common labeling of House members as "Congressmen" and Senate members as senators. It makes it seem as if the two groups are exclusive, when really members of both houses could be accurately called "Congressmen(/women/persons/critters)".

      Perhaps "Representatives" and "Senators" would be better, but then again, both groups are "representatives", too.

      Bottom line, the House needs to get itself a more distinctive name. Too bad for them Senate is already taken.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Red Flayer (890720)

        Bottom line, the House needs to get itself a more distinctive name. Too bad for them Senate is already taken.
        My vote is for the Skelate.

        Then we could address them as Skeletor Jones, Skeletor Menendez, etc.
  • What's next? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Thursday November 01, 2007 @08:11AM (#21194839) Homepage

    Stopping spyware would be great, but if I were you ('you' as in 'citizen of the united states') I would read any proposed laws on how to stop these people very carfeully before jumping up and down of joy.

    If the new laws wouldn't be outright hostile to your freedom to use the internet and your computer from the start, they might possibly be easily modified to become that in the future.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by pipatron (966506)

      Note to self: check your spelling very carefully before posting

    • We're already headed in that direction. The average American uses their computer to satisfy a specific role in their life, we are dedicated to our jobs and families (hence all the medication) and don't want to concern our selves with technical issues such as computer maintenance. I can't count how many times I've been told by a customer "I don't care what you have to do I just want to be able to check my email!". This says it all the CITIZEN in America wants freedom, justice and the American way but the CON
    • by heybo (667563)
      The sad truth is even if laws are past they will not be upheld. Look at the "Can Spam Act". Did it reduce the amount of spam we all see? I don't think so.
  • "The FTC is seeking more legal authority to go after spyware vendors, and Congress has passed a few bills to support them, but the Senate is ignoring them. [...]"

    This bothers me because it's typical of most people not understanding basic facts about the legislature. Congress is comprised of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Saying "Congress has passed a few bills" means both the House and Senate have passed them, not just the House.

  • by Dance_Dance_Karnov (793804) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @08:24AM (#21194921) Homepage
    I wonder who gets to decide what is spyware? who is going to write the definition? what other powers will they decide to give themselves why they are at it?

    ask yourself, when was the last time the federal government did anything which was in your best interest, and not that of big business or other moneyed powers?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BCW2 (168187)
      "ask yourself, when was the last time the federal government did anything which was in your best interest, and not that of big business or other moneyed powers?"

      The "do not call" list is the only thing congress has done in the last 40 years that has helped me, or worked as advertised. Sad but true.
      • oh yea, I forgot about that.

        so they're 1 for
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Red Flayer (890720)

        The "do not call" list is the only thing congress has done in the last 40 years that has helped me

        The federal highway system (what, you thought all those goods you buy cheaply are trucked in off-road vehicles?)
        FDIC-insured bank accounts (or do you keep all your money as cash^H^H^H^Hgold coins under your mattress?)
        Environmental regulations (do you breathe air and drink water, or eat foods that need air and water to survive?)

        It's easy to take potshots at the federal government, since there is so much that DO

    • Your being festicious, the article was poorley worded and should have said malware instead of spyware. Malware is anything that causes an undesirable effect on your computer system.
      • and when they decide that encryption is 'an undesirable effect'? or the ability to play non-drm media? or to communicate without being observed?

        you aren't thinking like a politician.
        • IDK how well known this is but encryption codes and algorithms to break them are treated the same as ballistic missiles in the USA. You can't buy or sell them in any effective form without a whole lot of paperwork outside the country. The other two are covered by that funny little document we call our bill of rights. And Thank You the day I start thinking like a politician find out who did the lobotomy.
    • ask yourself, when was the last time the federal government did anything which was in your best interest, and not that of big business or other moneyed powers?

      They invaded Iraq, which was to help you feel more secure. They passed a few nanny-state laws, which were to save you from yourselves, and make you feel more confident about your kids' futures. They've taken bad but not seriously inept care of your economy (enough to maintain your standard of living). They've tried to help keep nuclear war at bay. The

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nametaken (610866)
      Something tells me the first thing they'll put on the list is wireshark, airsnort or some similar utility. Politicians + tech = BAD NEWS. Always.
  • by VengefulCynic (824720) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @08:27AM (#21194935)
    While this issue has the potential to be a lot more nuanced than the article is letting on, what I really find curious is how no Senator has latched on to the idea of regulating spyware as a good thing. This issue, to my mind, is a lot like passing legislation that ruins the lives of sex offenders. Sure, you can pass laws that go way too far, but in the mind of the voting and news-watching public, if you're going after the Bad Guys, that's Always a Good Thing. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm really shocked that there aren't a couple of Senators (especially among those up for re-election) who haven't decided that it would be a Good Idea to get their names attached the the Law That Stops Bad Guys and run it through the Senate.

    It seems to be a break-down in the fundamental egoism and show-boating that runs the Senate... almost as if they were all distracted by a massive policy black hole somewhere else that's absorbing all of their somewhat limited time. I don't know, maybe a war or something.

    • by Bill Dog (726542)
      Why don't you tell your boss that you'll still be coming in and expect to get paid, but you won't be doing your job because something somewhere else is absorbing all of your somewhat limited time.
    • I've sort of been wondering about this myself. Like that pathetic "CAN-SPAM" or whatever it was called. Who's paying our fearless leaders off? Perhaps no one has offered the right amount to grease the skids on this. It is so atypical of our chosen ones to pass up an opportunity to at least pretend to do something. Such an obvious opportunity to make noise, er, news. I've always seen it as a liability issue myself. Any just court (I'm using my imagination, so just fantasize here,) would find a tort for all t
  • by schwit1 (797399) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @08:34AM (#21194999)
    The House and Senate will not truly represent the voter until campaign contributions are limited to registered voters.


    I should only be able to give money to candidates I am permitted to vote for.

    • The House and Senate will not truly represent the voter until campaign contributions are limited to registered voters.


      I should only be able to give money to candidates I am permitted to vote for.

      I think this would violate the Constitution.
      • by aztektum (170569)
        I think you're nuts. I offer no possible evidence or further opinion on the subject, I just wanted to chime in.
  • The problem, as I see it, is that most of the Senate is insulated from the reality of the problem:

    • Their government-provided account (blah-blah@senate.gov) is surely highly-filtered to keep out SPAM.
    • Their staff filters the rest and only forwards the "good stuff".

    Thus, for any given senator it's: "Problem? What problem?"

    I am curious why the House of Representatives is able to see that there is a problem, but the Senate does not. Could it be that the Representatives are "closer" to the people; are bet

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Red Flayer (890720)

      I'd love to see the outcome of a Senator voluntarily publishing their personal e-mail address for harvesting and getting their report on how they liked it.
      Heh. Let's use Senators' private email accounts as spam honeypots (spampots?).

      Let's see how many end up spending some money on herbal V1agra -- if Bob Dole uses it, surely there's no shame in it?
  • by hanshotfirst (851936) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @09:43AM (#21195713)

    Now, who exactly counts as a spyware "vendor"? I don't see many COTS "spyware" packages (MS products exempted for the sake of argument). I see plenty of spyware masquerading as system utilities, marketing/profiling, weather widgets, screen savers, viruses, and worms attached to things, but none of these seem to come from vendors who advertise themselves as such.

    This smells of the same logic as gun control - let's make them highly regulated so we know who has them... but the ones who you don't want to have them - the problems - are most often then ones who go around the regulation to get one. Same with spyware, those that make the really effective spyware aren't going to be registered as software vendors in a way that the FTC can regulate.

    • by Bryansix (761547)
      Spyware companies exist. You don't even have to leave Slashdot [slashdot.org] to find that out.
    • by BillX (307153)
      They are referred to as vendors on anti-spyware sites because if you refer to them as "scumwhores" their lawyers start neeping.
  • I hear that guy in New York loves going after high-profile undesirables.

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