The End of Spyware?
The US House of Representatives has recently passed the "Spy Act" - or to give it its full title - the Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act. This aims to prevent software companies from installing spyware on users PCs without their knowledge, and anyone found guilty of breaching the act faces a fine of up to $3 million.
Does this mean the end of spyware as we know it? Unfortunately the answer is no, not really. The problem is that most spyware can continue to operate in exactly the same way as it does now, by asking the computer user to agree to a licence before it installs itself. The majority of people who are faced with a lengthy legal-looking page of text when installing a new program, automatically click the "I Agree" option without reading the terms. Therefore spyware programs can quite legally continue to piggy-back their way onto PCs.
Add to this the fact that a large percentage of spyware originates from outside the US, and it quickly becomes clear that the Spy Act realistically has about as much chance of success as the Can-Spam act did in attempting to stop the deluge of junk email that arrives in our mailboxes every day.
Spyware can be a lucrative business for advertisers and software vendors, and with the average home PC already carrying around 26 spyware and adware programs, it's a problem that looks set to become worse before it gets better. In time, additional international laws may reduce the problem, but for the present at least, every PC user should keep up-to-date anti-spyware software running on their machine.
Grant Rogers is an independent computer security consultant. You can find more information on anti-spyware and adware software at http://www.spyware-adware.info