California Anti-Spyware Bills Pass Committee

  |  May 5, 2004   |  Comments

Two California anti-spyware bills win committee approval, one in the Senate and one in the Assembly.

Two California anti-spyware bills won committee approval Tuesday, one in the Senate and one in the Assembly.

Concern about the spyware [define] issue is growing, and consumers are pressuring lawmakers to take action. A recent study found the average computer houses roughly 28 items of monitoring software, unbeknownst to the user, according to Internet service provider EarthLink and Webroot Software.

SB 1436, introduced by Sen. Kevin Murray, D-Los Angeles, was approved by the Senate's Judiciary Committee Tuesday. The bill would provide for a $1000 fine for installing spyware on a California computer without giving the recipient notice. It will next be considered by the full Senate.

AB 2787, introduced by Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, gained approval from the Assembly's Judiciary Committee Tuesday. The bill will face the full Assembly before the end of May, a Leslie aide said.

Assemblyman Leslie's bill would prohibit hijacking, surreptitious surveillance and inhibiting termination of a program.

The legislation would prohibit the use of a user's computer without the user's consent via the download of an unauthorized program. It would also bar software designed to foil consumers' attempts to uninstall it. Finally, it would bar any practice where an individual intrusively and surreptitiously collects data about a user unrelated to the purpose of the software.

The bill would also provide that the consumer can take the perpetrators to court if the prohibitions are violated, according to a Leslie aide. "They can sue for damages under the state's laws governing unfair business practices," the aide said.

The aide said he does not think the bill will face legal challenges if it ends up as law. "We've been working with the industry and they like the direction we're going. We are having an open dialogue, that's a positive thing," he said.

Utah's recently passed anti-spyware law is currently being challenged by adware maker WhenU. The company is alleging that the statute is unconstitutional and limits companies' rights to commercial speech.

Similar to Assemblyman Leslie's bill, Sen. Murray's bill, SB 1436, would make it possible for individuals to sue if violations occur. Unlike Leslie's bill, SB 1436 names a specific sum, $1,000. The amount is subject to reduction by a court for specified reasons. The bill would also provide for attorney's fees and costs to be paid to the prevailing plaintiff in such suits.

SB 1436 would make it unlawful to install spyware on a California computer without notice to the owner. The notice consists of telling the recipient that the computer software contains spyware, and what the spyware does (for example, collects personal information).

The bill defines "spyware" as "an executable program placed on your computer without your knowledge that monitors your actions or takes your personal information and reports it to a third party," according to a Murray aide.

The aide said that some work would probably be done on the definition, which did not meet with the approval of some industry groups present at the hearing.

Both bills provide a good starting place for discussion of the issue, according to Ray Everett-Church, chief privacy officer of TurnTide.

"If lawmakers use these bills as the starting point they can come up with legislation that would indeed help the consumer and permit legitimate businesses to provide ad-supported products and services," said Everett-Church. "Both bills highlight a clear and valid concern lawmakers have that consumers are being assaulted by spyware."

Other lawmakers are taking action based on these concerns. U.S. Sens. Conrad Burns and Barbara Boxer recently introduced legislation to prohibit spyware, adware and other intrusive software. The proposed act, known as SPYBLOCK, would make it illegal to install software on a user's computer without notice and consent.

The Federal Trade Commission is also examining the matter. The FTC held an April hearing in Washington, D.C. focusing on adware and spyware. The goal of the hearing, "Monitoring Software on Your PC: Spyware, Adware, and Other Software," was to initiate a dialogue on the subject and move toward possible solutions.

ClickZ Live New York What's New for 2015?
You spoke, we listened! ClickZ Live New York (Mar 30-Apr 1) is back with a brand new streamlined agenda. Don't miss the latest digital marketing tips, tricks and tools that will make you re-think your strategy and revolutionize your marketing campaigns. Super Saver Rates are available now. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janis Mara

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

UPCOMING TRAINING

Featured White Papers

Google My Business Listings Demystified

Google My Business Listings Demystified
To help brands control how they appear online, Google has developed a new offering: Google My Business Locations. This whitepaper helps marketers understand how to use this powerful new tool.

5 Ways to Personalize Beyond the Subject Line

5 Ways to Personalize Beyond the Subject Line
82 percent of shoppers say they would buy more items from a brand if the emails they sent were more personalized. This white paper offer five tactics that will personalize your email beyond the subject line and drive real business growth.

WEBINARS

    Information currently unavailable

Jobs

    • Lead Generation Specialist
      Lead Generation Specialist (The Oxford Club) - BaltimoreThe Oxford Club is seeking a talented writer/marketer to join our growing email lead-generation...
    • Health Marketing Editor
      Health Marketing Editor (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreCome flex your intellectual muscle as part of Agora, Inc’s (http://agora-inc.com/) legal team...
    • Marketing Systems Analyst
      Marketing Systems Analyst (OmniVista Health) - BaltimoreOmniVista Health is looking to add a Marketing Systems Analyst to our expanding team. We...