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Top Web Businesses Oppose Utah Spyware Law 289

Posted by simoniker
from the online-petitions dept.
theodp writes "According to MediaPost.com: 'Some of the Web's leading content and technology providers have taken action to lobby against Utah's controversial Spyware Control Act, which is awaiting the governor's signature. Web publishers and businesses including AOL, Amazon, Cnet, eBay, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! signed a letter to the bill's sponsors arguing that the bill could create serious repercussions for the entire online community. The parties to the letter warned that the bill could interfere with computer security and would also impair the delivery of local, targeted ads'."
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Top Web Businesses Oppose Utah Spyware Law

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  • by Dr Reducto (665121) * on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:22PM (#8572229) Journal
    I dont see a problem:

    Under the bill, any software that reports its users' online actions, sends personal data to other companies, or serves pop-up ads without permission is prohibited.

    How hard is it to get permission? All you have to say is: "Do you want to be informed of the best deals in your area?", and %90 of people will say: "Sign me up!". Im sure it will be easy to get around this law if a company wants to. And given the profit motive, why wouldn't they?
    • by pvt_medic (715692) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:27PM (#8572293)
      dont most of these people already do this, they just bunch it somewhere in the ULA and just about everyone clicks ok.
      • Some of this stuff is starting to ignore the asking for permission bit. That is when things are no longer good. Then again that is already violating other laws.
      • Those EULAs are a bunch of crap. Just clicking "yes" on a pop-up so it will go the F*%& away does not constitute informed consent. Also, if a user agrees to take one piece of adware, 8 or 9 others join in unannounced, and leave a door open for more. All spyware should be illegal pop-up "agreements" or not.
        • by bladernr (683269) on Monday March 15, 2004 @09:52PM (#8574607)
          Those EULAs are a bunch of crap. Just clicking "yes" on a pop-up so it will go the F*%& away does not constitute informed consent. Also, if a user agrees to take one piece of adware, 8 or 9 others join in unannounced, and leave a door open for more. All spyware should be illegal pop-up "agreements" or not. How ya like dat?

          I've got a particularly strong conspiracy theory about this. It goes like this:

          1. The government should invest all the money for consumer protection in consumer education and programs to inform the public; do away with regulation; let the market make decisions.
          2. Informed consumers would not simply click on something, or buy something etc.
          3. Making it harder to sell things, more expensive, lowering profits.
          4. So the government actually helps big business by pretending to hurt them with regulations. It doesn't abolish regulations and invest in education, empowering people to vote with their pocketbook, because it would work.

          The only thing I can't figure out is if harboring this idea makes me ultra-liberal or ultra-conservative...

    • by xkenny13 (309849) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:28PM (#8572306) Homepage
      %90 of people will say: "Sign me up!"

      Actually, it will probably be more like SPAM is today: "You gave permission to one of our 3rd party affiliates to receive this great offer (blah blah blah)".

      Will a permission clause really make that big of a difference?
    • by Moryath (553296) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:40PM (#8572456)
      See, the problem is, Spyware jerks (like Gator) always CLAIM that what they are delivering is (a) with permission, (b) wanted, and (c) delivering some sort of benefit to the consumer.

      And it takes a hell of a lot to debunk that.

      The BIG one is to get shitholes like Gator to stop using "trickler" apps that reinstall the program if the user tries to remove it.
      • And it takes a hell of a lot to debunk that.

        In some cases, it takes a hell of a lot to convince them you've changed your mind. Of course now there are good and free spyware removal tools. I've been to some sites that pop up messages that say "Javascript error: Not a Win32 environment" :)
      • by s13g3 (110658) on Monday March 15, 2004 @07:03PM (#8573252) Journal
        Uhm, I dunno about you, but it would take absolutely no effort on my part whatsoever to debunk the above claims. Period, paragraph, end-of-story, I do not want advertising, advertising software, tracking software, special deals/offers, targeted marketing, tracking cookies, malware, spyware or anything other than the app I specifically downloaded or the web-page I specifically viewed. I don't give a d4mn if MS or Yahoo! (whose mail service I use) thinks this has security implications for them, as that's total BS of the pointy-haired boss [dilbert.com] variety.

        If I went to gator.com (or whatever their website is) and downloaded their marketing software, that would be one thing. But I haven't, and never will. My guess is 98% of people wouldn't either. I don't want to be plagued by their crap. If I wanted to be some kind of running marketing/advertising survey participant, there are places I could go to do that (e.g. NPDOR.com) As it is, I don't even plug my satellite IRD or cable receiver (yes, I have both) into the phone line b/c I don't want them reporting my viewing statistics. I am not a guinea-pig for Nielsen, and neither is my PC.

        So yah, fsck MS and Yahoo! and the rest. Destroy all spy/mal-ware and tar-ball and feather the spammers! I shouldn't have to run software on my PC to find out if some asshole webmaster or programmer is hunting for my name/email/home address/surfing habits, etc. Spyware, malware and the like are just overblown viruses (and just as malicious in many cases), and should be treated by the authorities as such. If Y! can and wants to denote my viewing habits within their site, that's fine. I subscribe to their service and use their hardware. If I click on an ad link (I won't), they can track that without ever installing software or cookies on my PC. Sure, that takes some horespower from their servers and space in their DBase, but I don't recall signing up for a Y! "Help us cut costs" distributed computing project. If I should provide my real name, address, or zip code to Yahoo! (I haven't, and won't) and they say they reserve the right to use that info, that's also ok, assuming I'm made immediately aware of this in very plain text at the top of the EULA. I even fed them a nearby zip code... I don't mind that there's an ad on my email page; That's how they make their money. I still won't click-thru, but they get paid by the impression, so if they want to send me ads local to Atlanta, that's ok, just so long as they
        • keep their grubby paws out of my box!

        The Internet may be the next big advertising medium (it's gotta pay for itself somehow), BUT MY PC IS NOT!

        Final thought for close. It is permissible for neighborhoods and office parks, etc., to put up signs saying "No Soliciting". This means that you can't just walk onto mine or someone else's private property and harass them to buy something. People have been shot for less. There is a sign outside of my neighborhood that says "No Soliciting". Boy/Girl Scouts are ok in my book. Jehovah's Witnesses and Insurance salesmen offend me, and I don't want them at my door bugging me. The law gives me the recourse, when properly posted, to have these people fined or in some cases arrested. Used to be bulk mailin my Snail-Mail box. That was bad enough but went away with the internet (USPS must miss those days). SPAM in my email box is just as bad. But installing software/cookies without my consent (something no one will *EVER* get legitimately) is no different than a salesman violating my personal privacy and property to come into my home and pitch me stuff I don't want. I almost never watch TV. Never mind the lack of content on the tube ('cept for Stargate, Enterprise CNN/FNN, and Discovery Wings), the advertising is obnoxious... Can't even legally get a filter to tone down the volume of commericals. But I do suscribe for that content. Thank any and all G-d's that ISP's don't operate th

    • by janbjurstrom (652025) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [raeenoni]> on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:53PM (#8572548)

      Without having RTFA (yeah, shocking, isn't it), I'd say /big/ business will fight anything they feel would be the slightest inconvenience to their business-as-usual focus on p.r.o.f.i.t.

      "What?! Testing DDT before spraying it EVERYWHERE? What don't you understand: No bugs!! You friggin commie business playa-hata."

      "Waddyamean cigarettes might be bad for pregnant women?? What? No, of course we don't need to test it - it's silky-smoooth isn't it?"

      "Union? You're fired! Unite that, buster!"

      "Our cars burst in flames, you say? For no apparent reason, huh? Well ...how 'bout that.. look, cows!"

  • by The I Shing (700142) * on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:23PM (#8572237) Journal
    -- Sigh --

    Is this yet another example of technologically illiterate politicians eagerly passing bills without bothering to find out what the law is going to do?

    At first, I read the post and thought, why are all these businesses opposed to this law? It must be a good law if a lot of big corporations don't like it.

    But after reading the article, I think that the legislators' efforts went off half-cocked, and they let one company write the bill to suit themselves.

    I wonder why these big companies waited until after the bill passed to begin lobbying. If the governor signs the bill, isn't it going to be a lot harder to get rid of it?

    I'm in favor of laws limiting spyware and adware, but I think it's important to get it right the first time. If the FTC doesn't even have a definition for spyware, it's back to the drawing board.
    • by John Harrison (223649) <johnharrison AT gmail DOT com> on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:32PM (#8572351) Homepage Journal
      Trying to be leading edge a digital signature law was passed that was basically written by a company that had started up doing what? Digital signatures! Oddly this company was spun off of the bank that the speaker of the house (Marty Stephens) works for.

      At least thats how I remember it.

      • by helix400 (558178) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:49PM (#8572518) Journal
        This is pretty much how it works. I was listening to the Utah House Legistlative session online (listening for the UTOPIA bill) when I first heard about this anti-spyware bill. I can confirm that many bills are written and submitted by companies with the sole intention of trying to protect their interests and block out competition.

        The problem is, there were hundreds of bills that needed to be debated, and so each individual bill gets little debate time. When a technology bill comes up, the attitude they all have is "Well...I really don't know what it means. However, I have to vote on it. If nobody else raises any serious objections, I'll assume its a good bill." This bill didn't have any serious objections, and so it was quickly passed.

        On a side note, the anti-UTOPIA bill was written almost solely by Qwest to kill the fiber optic plan. The bill survived the first few legal hurdles before some representatives started to actively question the bill and how it was designed by Qwest solely to kill competition. Then representatives drastically amended the bill for the better.
    • by BrynM (217883) * on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:34PM (#8572377) Homepage Journal
      I wonder why these big companies waited until after the bill passed to begin lobbying. If the governor signs the bill, isn't it going to be a lot harder to get rid of it?
      The article mentioned that this thing literally sped through the legislature. The companies had to gather enough resistance to seem coherent and by the time they did, the bill passed. In today's climate of "See I help the little people" politics, this doesn't surprise me at all. Look at how quickly other "comsumer" or "security" bills have been slam dunked in US government. Modern politicians are deperate to seem like they are doing something that the common man and woman can grasp. Whether that something is the right something to do probably doesn't even enter the equasion. The more percieved "good" that a politician can do, the more room he/she has to do what they want and still get re-elected.
    • by bludstone (103539) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:37PM (#8572424)
      "they let one company write the bill to suit themselves."

      People dont realize how epidemic this is in American politics. The politicians often don't even write the laws, they _literally_ allow companies to write the laws, and simply sign what they are given into law.

      It even got to the point where laws are copyrighted, and one had to pay hundreds of dollars simply for a copy of the law. Someone posted a copy of the law online and was met with copyright complaints.

      see here. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?n avby=search&case=/data2/circs/5th/9940632cv0.h tml

      of course, they eventually found in Veeck's favor, http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/99/99-406 32-cv2.htm but it still must be noted.

      heres a slashdot article on it:
      http://slashdot.org/yro/01/05/13/1921223.shtm l

      I could also post a flurry of links regarding American fore-father's worries about the growing strength of "company" and to watch out for its influence on the government, but that would be preaching to the choir.
      • by Buran (150348) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:41PM (#8572460)
        Your link is incorrect. The case is here [uscourts.gov].

        "For the reasons discussed above, we REVERSE the district court's judgment against Peter Veeck, and REMAND with instructions to dismiss SBCCI's claims."
    • I wonder why these big companies waited until after the bill passed to begin lobbying. If the governor signs the bill, isn't it going to be a lot harder to get rid of it?
      The legislation probally just slipped under their radar. Most companies (SCO excepted of course) just see Utah as "one of the 40 or so states that we don't have an office in". Add in legislator fustration (nothing moves bills quicker than a fustrated law-maker), and a dash of "just another privacy bill".
    • by mcmonkey (96054) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:56PM (#8572585) Homepage
      But apparently it helps.

      Is this yet another example of technologically illiterate politicians eagerly passing bills without bothering to find out what the law is going to do?

      H2O mixup creates scare [boston.com]

      ALISO VIEJO, Calif. (AP) -- City officials were so concerned about the potentially dangerous properties of dihydrogen monoxide that they considered banning foam cups after they learned the chemical was used in their production.

      Then they learned, to their chagrin, that dihydrogen monoxide -- H2O for short -- is the scientific term for water.

      "It's embarrassing," said City Manager David J. Norman. "We had a paralegal who did bad research."

      I don't fault folks for not knowing what dihydrogen monoxide is, but for charging ahead, guns blazing, completely unburdened by the thought process. Sounds like presidential material to me.

    • I'm in favor of laws limiting spyware and adware, but I think it's important to get it right the first time. If the FTC doesn't even have a definition for spyware, it's back to the drawing board.

      The first time I ran into adware, I got pretty ticked off about it. I was running a pop-up killer, yet I was still getting pop ups, at Google and my bank even.

      Google put a link on their page "Why Google doesn't use pop-ups", I clicked it, and I read all about [ad/spy]ware. I quickly discovered Ad-Aware, and remov

  • Smoke & Mirrors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:23PM (#8572240) Homepage Journal

    For example, the parties to the letter warned that the bill could interfere with computer security by preventing information technology and security companies from collecting data to analyze and prevent virus attacks, and would also impair the delivery of local, targeted ads.

    If they are that concerned about security they could have AV companies include a [X] "Report viruses to Foo.com AV Central" option to eliminate that minor complaint and be compliant with the new law. As for targetted ads.. well, that's what they're really concerned about. It's a multi-million (billion?) dollar industry. Screaming about how bad the bill is for security is just a smoke and mirrors game.

    I only hope that the spyware people don't go after the AdAware [lavasoftusa.com] or Spybot Search & Destroy [safer-networking.org] folks under the guise of the DMCA.

    The way things today are going though..
    • Re:Smoke & Mirrors (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MushMouth (5650) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:28PM (#8572302) Homepage
      The Problem with AdAware and the like is that they do not actually block programs/controls by their own published guidelines. They also do not respond at all to any sort of dialog to inquire why they choose to block the programs that they do, yet not other toolbars which have the exact same functionality, privacy statements, uninstaller, and installer.
    • Re:Smoke & Mirrors (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sumdumass (711423)

      I only hope that the spyware people don't go after the AdAware or Spybot Search & Destroy folks under the guise of the DMCA.

      i don't think they can go after them with the DMCA. the adware removing programs usually just watch what is being installed and then devise a way to remove what is phoning home.

      then they offer way to remove it with an update to thier consumer product. there is really nothing more going on here. other that watching network trafic for somthignthats not supposed to be there and t

  • Hmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:24PM (#8572256)
    I doubt anyone is surprised by Microsoft's, AOL's, etc, complaints, but Google and the like? That seems a bit odd.

    Do they believe that later legislation will "restrict" even more things that affect their buisness, or do they sponsor spyware?
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by stratjakt (596332)
      Perhaps they arent fools, and realize that legal solutions to technical problems ALWAYS backfire.
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by orthogonal (588627)
      I doubt anyone is surprised by Microsoft's, AOL's, etc, complaints, but Google and the like? That seems a bit odd.

      Google's a great company for offering an unbiased search with small, tasteful text ads, and for sustaining the newsgroup archives many of us still call DejaGoogle.

      So we tend to see Google as one of the "good guys". And to some extent, they are one of the good guys.

      That said, Google also records the IP address and the search term of each Google search, potentially amassing a great deal of pr
  • by BgJonson79 (129962) <.srsmith. .at. .alum.wpi.edu.> on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:25PM (#8572264)
    your "targeted ads" are going to be discarded because someone thinks they're spyware, maybe the ads should be re-thought?
    • Why are the people who call Bush a dictator the same ones who want to take away our guns?

      Not true.... I'm a NRA card carrying, Whitetail hunting, handgun owning Independant. The way I see things currently is Bush is killing free speach and needs to get out of office!!
  • There's a Difference (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blackmonday (607916) * on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:26PM (#8572279) Homepage
    There's a difference between a *relatively* benign cookie stored in the browser and a trojan spyware program as bundled with kazaa, comet cursor, etc.
    Having said that, I'm not sure legislation is the best way to take care of this. Can't we use existing laws in court to fight spyware?

    • probably, but we're starting to see in legislature what we've been seeing in software patents for a long time now. "breaking and entering.. on the internet" or "illegal wiretap... through web page" or whatever else. I would imagine we do have laws to govern some of this already, but that doesn't force lobby groups to give the government more money. i'm too suspicious anymore to think money isn't the motive behind most of government.
  • by ssand (702570) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:27PM (#8572283)
    While this could potentially be welcoming, I fail to see it actually enforcable. With many programs that contain spyware, you agree to their terms of services which more than likely includes that 1. they may redirect you. 2. You allow them to update/install what they want ... and so forth. Further more there are programs that may not be spyware, but are milicious, and problematic for users (like RealOne).
  • by Gr33nNight (679837) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:27PM (#8572286)
    ..local, targeted ads..

    So, since I live in Wisconsin, I should be seeing tons of ads for cheese and beer..?
  • Yes, well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tuxedo Jack (648130) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:27PM (#8572290) Homepage
    That's why those of us who give a damn do this:

    - Refuse most cookies
    - Block malicious servers with HOSTS files
    - Mozilla (Block Images from Selected Server)
    - Spybot/Ad-Aware (If in Windows)

    Althought admittedly, this phrase is interesting:

    "Under the bill, any software that reports its users' online actions, sends personal data to other companies, or serves pop-up ads without permission is prohibited. It does contain certain exceptions that some industry analysts have deemed "self-contradictory," such as "cookies" used for personalizing Web pages, and ads served by HTML or JavaScript."

    That completely outlaws a crapwad of software there.

    However, as a lot of spyware is non-U.S. in origin, it won't curb all of it.
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:28PM (#8572297)
    Yep... this is an interesting problem. The bill says (1) A person may not:...
    (c) use a context based triggering mechanism to display an advertisement that partially or wholly covers or obscures paid avertising or other content on an Internet website in a way that interferes with a user's ability to view the Internet website.


    That could be read to say program that removes any part of the website from the user's view and replaces it with either something else or even plain nothingness is prohibited. So many non-spyware user-friendly uses of technology could get caught in the crossfire...
    • No it couldn't. It specifically says "display an advertisement", and a blank area is clearly not an advertisement by any definition. (And no, before anyone says "But a clever lawyer could argue...", the law doesn't work that way, it never has done. People get so hung up on urban legends about what clever lawyers have done together with righteous anger about laws that have been abused that they assume everything is a matter of lawyers redefining the English language. It almost never works that way.)

      It kind of reminds me of an old Knight-Ridder News Service wire where it was explained why the inscription on the metal bands used by the U.S. Department of the Interior to tag migratory birds had been changed.

      The bands used to bear the address of the Washington Biological Survey, abbreviated

      Wash. Biol. Surv.

      Until the agency received the following letter from a camper:

      Dear Sirs:

      While camping last week I shot one of your birds. I think it was a crow. I followed the cooking instructions on the leg tag and I want to tell you it was horrible.

      The bands are now marked Fish and Wildlife Service.

    • (1) A person may not:... (c) use a context based triggering mechanism to display an advertisement that partially or wholly covers or obscures paid avertising or other content on an Internet website in a way that interferes with a user's ability to view the Internet website.

      So under this, would Pop-Under Ads be okay? Are MDI and child windows illegal under this bill? Woohoo! The "About Internet Explorer" popup in the help menu is illegal! Hell, the menu itself is illegal if it obscures the web

  • Flawed laws (Score:3, Insightful)

    by broothal (186066) <christian@fabel.dk> on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:31PM (#8572336) Homepage Journal
    I agree that the law looks flawed, and it's okay to protest. What I don't understand is, where were these guys when another flawed law [spamlaws.com] passed congress?
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:31PM (#8572337)
    This is a nice try by a well intentioned legislator, but a state law will have very little effect on the operations of Internet companies not operating from their state. Let's face it, the United States has trouble geting its laws to regulate offshore casinos and offshore-based music download services.

    If you don't like the laws of the jurisdiction you're setting up an Internet company, it's far too easy to set up shop in a more friendly jurisdiction. With this law being clearly written by somebody who isn't bothering to carve out a nice safe territory for targeted ads, Utah will basically lose any bit of the Internet content industry it has left to other states.
  • by Naito (667851) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:31PM (#8572344)
    only effect on security banning spyware could have is to IMPROVE it. fucking spyware. sick of removing it from people's computers. it might affect computer sales tho. With no more spyware on their computers, newbies will be able to get by with a much slower machine. The loads of spyware make people complain that their 2.4Ghz P4 isn't fast enough and help sell the 3.2s etc, so that even with it's bogged down by spyware it still feels like a 2.0
    • Amen to that! Ever since the last E-mail virus that circulated round our labs, I've been trying to account for every open port, http and ftp request on my PC. Finding out that certain components s were automatically self-updating every time someone logged in, has not made me happy. I wish this law would include self updating system components.
  • "The parties to the letter warned that the bill could interfere with computer security and would also impair the delivery of local, targeted ads"

    Isn't that the point? That's a warning? I hope it's a promise. I'll keep my computer secure, thanks, I don't need someone like MS telling me how to do it.
  • by Orion Blastar (457579) <orionblastar@@@gmail...com> on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:34PM (#8572380) Homepage Journal
    I do not want to install their malware, nor should I think it should be legal to trick the user to install it either. If the users knew what kind of program it was, they would not install it. But it has to be hidden behind OS updates, Media Players, shareware, helper programs, toolbars, and other things.

    Find another way to make money, I am not buying their defense of Spyware/Adware one bit.
  • by Eberlin (570874) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:34PM (#8572382) Homepage
    I've always been puzzled as to how this works. I know there should be lots of cases of such things already (Sharman Networks, for example) where a "local" law is used to prosecute someone from another area.

    With the Internet being what it is, how do we effectively enforce such things? Seems like a lot of chest-pumping without much effect. More politicians posturing? So how can local laws be enforced on a global community? (besides pissing enough people off to get the DMCA slapped on you and ruin your US travel itinerary a la Dmitri)
    • by cluckshot (658931) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:07PM (#8572690)

      The whole issue centers around the issue or Nexis in law. (The Connection) So long as the law allows that you are connected or had contact with the Plaintiff you are subject to the laws he has. It would seem that since the webpage is deliberately placed in a media and advertized in a way such as to affect the actions of a person in this or that jurisdiction it comes under the law.

      The problem is that the EU for example does not honor UTAH warrants like the 49 other US States do. So this really only applies inside the USA. The Netherlands tried to apply jurisdiction as did Belgium to the whole world over "War Crimes" recently. It almost worked but the USA had other ideas on the matter and turned some screws and that died.

      The real issue here is that the Business pushing the spam is selling goods inside the USA so it pretty much comes under the Nexis of US Courts and Laws. It would take a simple act of US Law forbidding the collection of any foreign debt which was incurred outside of US Laws and the Spammers would be out of MONEY.

      If any US State simply forbid the collection of Credit Cards and Payments of Debits with Triplicate Damages plus Legal the Money guys would get in line. (Same as US Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1979)

  • by hobbespatch (699189) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:34PM (#8572388)
    CNET Article on Utah & Otherstates Spyware Laws. [com.com]

    The result, after some negotiation and input from Net companies, is a bill that bars companies from installing software that reports its users' online actions, sends any personal data to other companies, or pops up advertisements without permission. It contains some loopholes: Advertisements served by ordinary HTML or JavaScript are exempted, as are the ordinary "cookies" often used to help personalize Web pages.

    I still don't see how this is bad. Sure it has 'enforcement' issues, but it carries a $10,000 fine, it might serve as a good deterrent.

  • by mustangsal66 (580843) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:36PM (#8572404)
    (b) recover the greater of:
    (i) actual damages; or
    (ii) $10,000 for each separate violation of this chapter.
    (3) In an action under Subsection (1), a court may:
    (a) increase the damages up to three times the damages allowed by Subsection (2) if the court finds the defendant willfully or knowingly violated this chapter; and
    (b) award costs and reasonable attorney fees to a prevailing party.

    ---
    1: Download adware
    2: Sue
    3: Profit!!!!
    ---
    Bahama vacation here I come!

    • 1: Download adware
      2: Sue
      3: Profit!!!!


      Sorry pal, but on the Internet, adware downloads you...

    • "(ii) $10,000 for each separate violation of this chapter."

      It's funny, the average adaware results I've seen for "moron" computer users is 100-150 removed spyware's. So for _EVERY_ computer that's a $1,000,000 violation (at least!).

      Hello children, can you say "class action suit", I know you can!
  • by DR SoB (749180) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:36PM (#8572414) Journal
    And in other news:

    The NRA is against gun control laws.

    Anti-abortionist demonstrated at an abortion clinic.

    Muslim extremists sent threatening letters.

    The stock market is crashing.

    And the sky is falling...
  • Claria (Score:4, Informative)

    by happyfrogcow (708359) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:37PM (#8572419)
    Companies like Claria and WhenU, for example, are legal adware providers, although each has been involved in high-profile lawsuits over their software. Both companies still face pending legal action.

    What are they smoking? Claria is spyware [com.com].
  • by blcamp (211756) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:38PM (#8572431) Homepage
    Criminey Sakes already!

    * It's my computer, bought and paid for.
    * It's my software, bought and paid for (and/or acquired free, legally).
    * It's my bandwidth, bought and paid for (on a monthly basis).

    Let me decide what to do with it.

    If I want to load up my HD with bloatware, spyware, malware or whatever, as long as it harms no one else... who the hell cares?

    If, on the other hand, I want to run my system cleanly, block out all malware sources with a HOSTS file, install anti-spyware and anti-virus software and do whatever else I see fit... again... who the hell cares?

    It's my choice to run my computer and my software to twiddle my own bits as I damn well see fit.

    If the government doesn't know anything about what the hell it is regulating, it out to stay the hell out of trying to do anything with it.

    • I sympathize, but... you're not quite right here.

      It is your computer, bought and paid for.

      As for the software, you're simply leasing a copy of it. You don't buy it. What you're purchasing is the distribution media and a license to use the software. (Which license, by the way, can be revoked at any time, according to many software companies terms of use.)

      Your bandwidth is likewise leased, unless you happen to buy and bury the cable yourself, and even then you have to connect *somewhere*.
    • Did you even read the article? It doesn't say you can't install spyware on your computer, it says you can't install in on someone elses's computer. It says you can't distribute spyware that screws up people's browsers by replacing the advertisements based on context triggering.

      Basically the law says you can't sell Drain-O at a lemonade stand, not that you can't drink it on your own if you want to.

    • You license the software. Just like you license music.
  • by rjelks (635588) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:46PM (#8572497) Homepage
    I don't think we need Utah legislators dictating technology to us. Maybe I'm cynical after looking at other tech-laws. Do we really want laws written by someone who needs an assistant to write an email? I think everyone in my office has a computer that operates about 20-30% too slow due to spyware/adware. Maybe people should increase security on their browsers and watch what they download. While a law against spyware sounds cool, I just believe it's going to backfire on us somehow. Anyway this law wouldn't even protect against Gator (or whatever they're called) anyway [com.com] :)
  • Biased Article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Percy_Blakeney (542178) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:54PM (#8572560) Homepage
    I hope that nobody is using this article as a base for their opinion of this bill. That had to be one of the most biased articles I've read lately. Here's just a few of the problems:

    • Googe, Yahoo, cNet, and eBay are involved, but the writer never directly quotes them, favoring to paraphrase their letter.
    • There are no opposition quotes.
    • The only quoted source is Avi Naider, who is the CEO of an adware company that is hurt by the bill.
    • MediaDailyNews is not an unbiased source; it is in their best interest to see this bill fail.

    I'm not sure whether this is supposed to be actual "news" or just a PR release. I know nothing about the actual bill, but this article definitely did not help me understand it. Why is Slashdot covering such a biased piece?

  • by hobbespatch (699189) on Monday March 15, 2004 @05:56PM (#8572582)
    Got an idea on how to make them Spyware laws better?

    Turns out the FTC is gonna be hosting Spyware workshop here in DC in April. FTC Workshop Information [ftc.gov]

    The workshop is titled Monitoring Software on Your PC: Spyware, Adware, and Other Software and will take place on April 19, 2004. It is open to the public and there is no attendance fee.

    On the site is information on how to submit a public comment to the records of the event.

  • According to the text of the bill:

    (4) Except as provided in Subsection (5), "spyware" means software residing on a computer that: (a) monitors the computer's usage; (b) (i) sends information about the computer's usage to a remote computer or server

    Which means that your browser, which routinely sends each web site you visit a referring URL, is spyware in Utah.

    Well, except for Internet Explorer, that is. Since IE is part of the operating system, it is excepted from the definition of s

  • Wouldn't this bill effectively make Windows XP illegal? Not to mention a number of RFC's? I've never given my computer permission to send broadcast packets on my network, yet it appears to be full of them?! What about a PING, I don't give my permission for PING to respond to unsolicited requests, yet it keeps responding! Heck even my Linksys router is illegal..
  • by e9th (652576) <e9th.tupodex@com> on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:08PM (#8572702)
    Spyware MUST be outlawed. Otherwise, don't be surprised when, say, Google starts telling you, "Sorry, we just tried to install our 'tracking' software on your system and failed. Please take your searches elsewhere."
    • Oddly enough, whenever you do a Google search, the keywords and the IP address you are using, are sent to each of the web page sites that are found.
    • Spyware MUST be outlawed.

      Depending on your definition of "spyware", I might agree. I would think a large amount of spyware is already illegal under various laws that prohibit tampering and unauthorized access.

      Otherwise, don't be surprised when, say, Google starts telling you, "Sorry, we just tried to install our 'tracking' software on your system and failed. Please take your searches elsewhere."

      If I own a website, why shouldn't I be allowed to grant access to only those clients I choose?
  • by SnapperHead (178050) on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:12PM (#8572739) Homepage Journal
    This is very simular to the spam debait, only becuase its the ones that go out of there way to hide who they really are, and where it came from.

    I hate spam as much as everyone else. I have a series of filters I use to get rid of as much as possiable. Even then, it only works about 98% of the time.

    If I install AIM, they have a little bar that shows ads. That doesn't bother me. I get a free service from them, then just have to have a SMALL add in the "buddy list". Small price to pay.

    What I don't agree with, is companys that install spyware without telling you about it. They NEED to say they are going to install it, and when you uninstall the application, the spyware needs to be uninstalled as well.

    Another thing, which is how they get you to install there spyware. I had a problem a while back, I went to some silly joke website. It asked if I wanted to install Macromadia Flash. (Notice the spelling) Since this was a new latop, I said sure. From that day on, every 12 hours and everytime the laptop booted up. It would ask if I wanted to install "free scratch cards". Funny, there is a EULA, and an accept button. No decline / cancel / exit button, no close button, etc.

    Everytime you would delete the file, it would reappear a few hours later. Still to this day, I can't figure out how to get rid of it. I did however find a way to disable it, but its still on my machine.

    That should be illegal. You should be required to tell the user WHAT they are REALLY installing. Misspelling company names and what not should be considered as fraud. Bundling spyware with other freeware apps without mentioning this to the user should also be illegal.

    Hijacking browsers and making it very difficult to change, or reset should also be illegal. I had a friend of mine whos machine was taking over so bad, that is browser only had 1 inputbox. No back and forward arrows, no stop or refresh. Just a inputbox which submits to a spyware search engine. Which interestingly enough returned the SAME results as google, even had the same style. The difference is, the names where changed and there was ads ALL over the place. It was so bad, that a reinstall of windows was the best option.

    I don't have a problem with ads on freeware apps. As long as ...

    1) I am told about it
    2) When I uninstall the freeware app, the spyware goes along.
    3) It doesn't damage my system by hijacking it.
    4) There isn't fraud as to the source of the application or its install methods.
  • Ok so after 'reading' the bill. and ass-u-ming that (1)(a)(i)(A)(B)(ii)(2) etc. translates to:

    1
    +- a
    | + i
    | | +- A ...<aka 1(a)i.A>
    | | +- B
    | |
    | +-ii
    |
    +- b

    2

    [If you attempted to RTFB, you understand...]

    Then simply changing 5

    From:
    (a) software designed and installed solely to diagnose or resolve technical difficulties;
    To:
    (a) software designed and installed solely to diagnose, prevent, or resolve technical difficulties;
    --changes in bold--

    `Friggen' resolves the 'so broad it gets benevolen

  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Monday March 15, 2004 @06:45PM (#8573090) Homepage Journal
    "and would also impair the delivery of local, targeted ads.."

    Gee, wouldn't THAT suck. Allowing people to use the 'Net without constant harrassment from marketers would surely provoke an outcry from the outraged Net populace.

  • From the article:
    "The parties to the letter warned that the bill could interfere with computer security and would also impair the delivery of local, targeted ads."

    Yeah, THAT'S THE POINT. The law will not interfere with computer security. The law will cause most major companies to have to resort to 3rd party gator-like advertisements which will affect computer security. What a way to spin it!
  • I read the article and thought "what a bunch of whiners!" and then read the legislation. Wow. One of the side effects is to make it illegal to have a targeted ad trigger based on a federally registered trademark. So, it becomes illegal to have an ad system (even if the computer owner explicitly wants it!) to detect "1800contacts" or "windows" or the like as triggers for suggesting cheaper contact lenses or linux/open source etc.

    I hate ads as much as most people, but I know of people who do actually use
  • by JayLEB (760484) on Monday March 15, 2004 @07:18PM (#8573392)
    One should also take note that the reason these big companies are so opposed to this anti-spyware bill is that the information gathered by companies such as Gator, Comet Cursor, Doubleclick, Wildtangent, etc... serves as a veritable goldmine for marketers inside MS, Amazon, and a whole bunch of other big companies. If they know what we're browsing, how we're browsing, then they know what we like, what we used to like, and what we don't like. Knowledge like this is what marketers DIE for. They have an undying urge to understand the consumer, and the spyware companies can (and most likely do) provide this information for a price. This is obviously a fight to took keep this information flowing smoothly.
  • by Kanasta (70274)
    the parties warned that the bill could impair the delivery of local, targeted ads!

    Can't they come up with something more significant? Oh no! my ads aren't targeted! quick format the HD!
  • The real issue... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SmurfButcher Bob (313810) on Monday March 15, 2004 @08:27PM (#8573990) Journal
    ... is curtilage.

    Nothing about "privacy", it's more simple than that. It all comes down to who owns the machine... who is accountable for what it does, and who has authority of what it does.

    Spyware is all about authority, without accountability. Period.

    In real life, though you cannot have one without the other. Consider the typical business, or household setup - you have...

    a) A hardware device, and Dad (or the sysadmin) owns it. He's the one the feds will arrest, first, when his IP address is linked to a pile of kiddy porn.

    b) Software licenses, owned by the licensee. Note that this person is *not* usually the same dude as the hardware owner... consider co-locations, or consider the game that Mom bought, to put on Dad's machine, for little 5 year old Billy to play.

    c) Users. These are the people who actually use the software, in concert with the hardware. Note that they own neither.

    You can see how authority, and especially accountability, come into play. Little Billy has no accountability, therefore he cannot have any authority. Giving him authority means he can bind Dad into any license agreements that come down the pike; despite that Dad may have explicitly forbidden such agreements.

    Likewise, Mom only has authority over the software license. She has no implicit rights to any of the hardware... she cannot loan it to a friend, sell it, lease clock time, or whatever. She can do whatever the hell she wants with the license, however, because it's hers... which includes letting Billy take one of her seats. Billy cannot reassign the seat she's given him, however, unless she agrees. After all, come License Violation Time, it'll be enforced against HER, not Billy.

    Same goes for the hardware - when all is said and done, Dad (or whoever owns the hardware) is going to be implicated.

    The perfect world respects this setup. In fact, it adds another layer - the Network Guy.

    The Network Guy owns all the cables, switches, routers that connect the machines to whatever. In the perfect world, he hates everyone... bandwidth is precious, and every packet is metered and paid for in blood. He has the right, since HE OWNS IT, to demand only certain types of traffic occur, and he has the right to demand that noone may deviate from his plan.

    The hardware owner pays the blood to the network guy, and he hates him for it. He also hates the software licencees - they're forever encumbering his machines, and he doesn't do it lightly. In fact, he demands (since HE OWNS THEM) that noone has any right to install anything, nor bind him to nor involve his hardware with any EULAs or whatever, period. CPU and drive assets are precious commodities, and those machines exist exactly to fulfill HIS purpose, and noone else's. He also hates the network guy, since the network guy is forever allowing packets to bounce off his NIC - which the machine reacts to, and causes an unauthorized change in state in the machine. The network guy has no right to cause such changes, unless the hardware owner has specifically agreed that those types of changes are allowed. The hardware guy is only allowed to cause specific changes in state of specific pieces of the network, and the networ guy is only allowed to cause specific changes in state of specific hardware devices.

    The software licensee is hated by all, and hates them all back. This person has no home, and has no implicit rights to anything other than, exactly, delegation of the licensed seat(s). This person is free to agree to whatever EULAs, terms restrictions, mortgage payments, or other encumberances... all day long, it matters not. However, they have no right to any of the hardware, nor any of the network - both of those resources must be negotiated for, separately. Both the hardware owner and the network guy will refuse to be bound by any terms in the license, since they have no interest in it, and both refuse to delegate any of their authority to the licensee. After all, she's a Typhoid Mary.

    F
  • I don't want a law banning adware/spyware.

    I want a law that imposes HUGE fines for companies who do. If they wanna clog up the internet with this crap, fine, but the company who's products/services are being solicited should pay about 0.001% of the total dollar value of the company for every popup/banner/etc. At least half of this fine should go to the people whose property and time are being invaded and wasted. And none of that "oh, we had their permission to do this" bullshit. Nobody knowingly instal

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