The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) while testifying before Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation said it wants power to invoke civil penalties on spyware distributors that would aid in deterrence.
It wants to punish and fine spyware purveyors.
According to Eileen Harrington, deputy director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection:
Enforcement options, such as seeking consumer redress or making the operators give up their ill-gotten gains, are not always sufficient. Many times, customers do not lose money, or it is difficult to quantify how much they did lose so civil penalties would be a more effective deterrent.
The FTC is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act and its principal mission is the promotion of “consumer protection” and the elimination and prevention of what regulators perceive to be “anti-competitive” business practices.
The FTC addressed the committee as part of its consideration for the Counter Spy Act, an anti-spyware bill stalled since it was introduced last year by Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.
Spyware and harmful adware are a critical threat to online security and privacy. It is wrong, and it must be stopped, Katherine McGuire, vice president for government relations at the nonprofit Business Software Alliance. She said:
While legislation is needed to fight privacy threats and to increase online safety, any new legislation should target bad behavior, and not attempt to dictate ‘good’ or ‘bad’ technology.
Tiffany Jones, director, government relations, at Symantec was also of the view that the use of spyware to steal personal information should be deemed a crime. In addition to that users should have the right to opt out from having spyware programs downloaded on to their computers, and should be able to remove those programs in a clear and simple manner.