June 12, 2007 | By Derek Slater

Action Alert - Stop the SPY Act!

The SPY Act is supposed to help stop spyware, deceptive adware, and other malicious software, but it is unlikely to do any good and could actually make things worse. If enacted, it would block lawsuits similar to the one EFF brought against Sony-BMG for infecting customers' computers with privacy-invasive copy protection. Don't let badware makers off the hook -- tell Congress to go back to the drawing board and draft a more sensible law.

Both the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice have said that they already have the authority they need to go after badware vendors, and this bill doesn't add any funds or significant tools for federal enforcement.

At the same time, the bill would stunt states' enforcement, preempting most of their stricter badware laws. For acts covered by the bill, state statutes (including consumer protection laws) wouldn't be available to consumers themselves as grounds for a lawsuit. And it leaves enforcement exclusively in the hands of federal bureaucrats, specifically barring private citizens and organizations like EFF working on their behalf from using the new law to fight back in the courts.

This is a terrible move. If Congress is serious about enacting tough laws against deceptive and malicious programs, it should create incentives that would encourage private citizens to pursue the bad guys. The federal government and state attorneys general can't possibly take on the entire job alone.

Congress should also focus on protecting anti-badware tool companies from harassing lawsuits brought by spyware and adware vendors. After all, badware removal programs are doing far more to protect your computer than the federal government ever will. Unfortunately, this bill does nothing to help sustain these helpful tools.

The SPY Act has already passed the House, but with your help we can make the Senate understand that they need to do better.


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