June 14th, 2008, 09:10 AM
FTC wants civil penalties for spyware
The FTC are proposing civil penalties for the purveyors of spyware.
Whilst the US has quite strict laws regarding criminal activity in the IT sector, it is frequently difficult to prosecute, and to prove and quantify material costs & losses.
The proposal is to introduce civil penalties such as for parking violations, speeding, littering, and jaywalking. These should be much easier to prosecute as they are behavioural. Either you did it or you didn't, rather than having to prove criminal intent and material loss.
The agency testified this week before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that the power to invoke civil penalties on spyware distributors would aid in deterrence.
"While legislation is needed to fight privacy threats and to increase online safety, any new legislation should target bad behavior, and not attempt to dictate 'good' or 'bad' technology,"
This looks like a move in the right direction to me.
Furthermore, she said, users should have the right to opt out from having spyware programs downloaded on to their computers, and should be able to remove those programs in a clear and simple manner.
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