House Panel Supports I-SPY Act
May 20, 2005

By Roy Mark

Spyware vendors are targeted with tougher criminal penalties under
legislation approved by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee this week.
The bill also authorizes $10 million for the Department of Justice to
fight spyware and phishing scams.

The Internet Spyware (I-SPY) Prevention Act of 2005 is one
of two major
anti-spyware measures pending in the House. The House Energy and
Commerce Committee approved the Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber
Trespass Act (SPY Act) in April.

Unlike the SPY Act, the I-SPY legislation doesn't focus on what is or
not spyware. Instead, it imposes prison terms for intentionally
accessing a computer without authorization for the purpose of planting
unwanted software.

"The I-SPY Prevention Act is unique because it focuses on behavior, not
technology, and it targets the worst forms of spyware without unduly
burdening technological innovation,"
bill co-sponsor Rep. Zoe Lofgren
(D-Calif.) said in a statement.

The SPY Act, on the other hand, requires that consumers receive a
and conspicuous" notice prior to the downloading of software. The bill
contains a number of exceptions to the download disclosure requirement.

Both bills are awaiting a full floor vote by the House. Last year, the
House approved legislation similar to the I-SPY and SPY Acts, but both
measures failed in the Senate.

"I am encouraged by the passage of this legislation through the
Judiciary Committee," Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Vir.), another co-sponsor,
said. "The I-SPY Prevention Act is a targeted approach that protects
consumers by imposing stiff penalties on the truly bad actors, while
protecting the ability of legitimate companies to develop new and
exciting products and services online for consumers."

Under the I-SPY bill, using unauthorized access to a computer to
another criminal offense is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up
to five years. If the access is used to transmit personal information
for the purposes of fraud or damaging a computer, the prison terms can
range up to two years.

"Spyware makes spam look like child's play and is one of the key
why we have an identity theft epidemic in this country," Lofgren said.
"I believe that this legislation will help stem the spyware tide and
contribute to a solution that protects businesses and consumers without
slowing innovation."