House passes antispyware bill Staff

Software makers and online advertisers would face stiff requirements under an antispyware bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this week. Those who oppose it say the legislation would penalize companies who distribute legitimate software and Web sites.

The Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act (SPY ACT)

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would require software distributors to clearly notify and obtain consent from consumers before programs can be loaded onto a computer, according to Reuters. The House passed the bill by a vote of 368 to 48.

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader John Boehner supporting an alternative antispyware bill the House passed last month. That legislation would impose specific penalties for fraudulent spyware use but would not require new regulations.

The group said the tougher bill passed this week "goes far beyond regulating spyware and cuts to the heart of the information economy and the unprecedented growth of the Internet."

The big concern is that the legislation's definition of "computer software" and "information collection programs" would paint all Web pages with the same harsh brush. The group wants the bill to "clarify that Web pages and other non-spyware Internet components are not included within the definitions."

The Senate hasn't taken up the issue yet.

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