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U.S. Senate Goes After Spyware

Earlier anti-spyware bills have stalled in Congress

The bipartisan bill would ban software that conceals its installation and operation, tricks users into installing it, can't be uninstalled through normal uninstall procedures, tracks behavior or collects information without the user's knowledge, or thwarts user control. Congress says the bill would target adware as well as spyware.

"I am pleased that the committee today supported efforts to address the growing problem of invasive spyware that is infecting millions of computers across the nation," said Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, in a statement.

In an effort to assuage fears that the bill would also target legitimate software, it limits liability for telecommunications companies, Internet service providers, and specific types of software suppliers. However, it could put the real offenders in jail for up to five years.

Passage of the legislation follows two similar efforts that died last year after the Senate received them from the House of Representatives and the Federal Trade Commission warned Congress that current fraud laws made spyware legislation unnecessary. The Senate also sat on a similar measure earlier this year.

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