[Politech] FTC convenes "spyware" workshop... with scant results

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Tue Apr 20 2004 - 21:36:49 PDT

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    Few solutions pop up at FTC adware workshop
    Last modified: April 19, 2004, 7:04 PM PDT
    By Declan McCullagh
    WASHINGTON--Spyware, adware and other code that lurks on hard drives has 
    become so pervasive it's bedeviling home users, driving corporate 
    technology managers to distraction and has become the top complaint in 
    customer service calls to computer makers.
    But participants in a one-day workshop convened Monday by the Federal 
    Trade Commission couldn't decide what to do about it.
    Software companies warned of poorly written laws targeting spyware that 
    could inadvertently affect legitimate products like smut-filtering 
    software or security update mechanisms. Microsoft suggested that 
    technology in a forthcoming Windows XP Service Pack might do the trick, 
    while other participants touted third-party rating systems and voluntary 
    codes of conduct.
    Politicians and their aides defended laws targeting spyware, citing the 
    example of last year's federal law regulating spam. But some advertising 
    companies claim their business model is perfectly legitimate, and law 
    enforcement representatives acknowledged they already had sufficient 
    legal authority under computer crime laws to put the most noxious 
    spyware makers in prison.
    When asked whether new laws were needed to place spyware authors in 
    prison, Mark Eckenwiler, a senior computer crime prosecutor at the U.S. 
    Justice Department, replied: "By and large, the answer is no. In our 
    quiver, we have a number of arrows we can use in prosecutions."
    While spyware and adware started to become a public concern about a year 
    ago, only in the past few months have some variants become the Internet 
    equivalent of Public Enemy No. 1.
    [...remainder snipped...]
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