I dont know about you, but I am sick and tired of spyware being installed in my computer. Sometimes to the point where the only way to get rid of it, is re-installing everything. If someone were to enter my home without my knowledge, put up a spy camera that monitors my computer screen and transmit that data to a marketing company, I could sue them. However there arent any legal areas to turn to when the same thing happens on your computer.
Curious about the legal ramifications to the companies who do this.. I looked up some information on what if any laws exist regarding this misuse of your property and information. Surpisingly, I did find some laws – and most importantly a new bill known as “H.R. 964: Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act”. Currently, this bill has passed in the House on 06/07/07 and is scheduled to be voted on by Senate.
I am glad this bill was made, and one would think, I have nothing further to complain about. However we are talking about me here, I always have something to complain about.
The bill vests all enforcement power in the FTC and says that “no person other than the Attorney General of a State may bring a civil action” under the law. Private rights of action under state consumer protection laws are eliminated. So if you’re victimized by a spyware-like deception and want to sue the perpetrator, you have to convince the FTC or State Attorney General to take your case.. and most likely prove that these deceptive acts took place. Not something easy to prove, for most of us at least. Other than handing them our computer, saying “halp!”.
And, while many people may throw stones and call me a consipracy theorist.. one of the things that caught my eye was Section 5: Limitations, where it states that:
(a) Law Enforcement Authority- Sections 2 and 3 shall not apply to–
(1) any act taken by a law enforcement agent in the performance of official duties; or
(2) the transmission or execution of an information collection program in compliance with a law enforcement, investigatory, national security, or regulatory agency or department of the United States or any State in response to a request or demand made under authority granted to that agency or department, including a warrant issued under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, an equivalent State warrant, a court order, or other lawful process.
I think that “investigatory” is a pretty broad term, and yea, I may just be nitpicking here but what would be a conspiracy theory rant without an actual theory? Also, bear in mind I am not a lawyer. So here it is.. what if that omission of clearly defined terms in what the governement can search for.. allows them an open window to spy on us above and beyond what has been defined in the U.S. Patriot act? This law would then make it legal for them to gather as much information for “investigative” purposes as they wanted, under the guise of a law made to protect the public. Hmm..
And while its somewhat off topic and I know it isnt spyware, I am sick and tired of being accosted by, what I now dub the most annoying voice, telling me that I have won not one but TWO FREE I-Pods. I cant be the only one who hears this message on various websites atleast 3 times a day.