Lawmakers Must Forge Right Spyware Weapon : Page 2

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However, Ken Dunham, director of malicious code at iDefense, Inc., a security and anti-virus company based in Reston, Va., says there's a good chance that lawmakers will get entangled in definitions and lose their way to writing strong, beneficial law.

''It's likely that it will have minimal success as these things are difficult to define,'' says Dunham. ''What is spyware? What is adware? Those questions will be difficult to answer and hold up in court.

''Say a bunch of silent installations are taking place -- all very malicious and clearly hostile,'' Dunham adds. ''But the software they're installing is not necessarily illegal. How do you prove that the end user did not agree to have this software installed? Good luck trying to prosecute that.''

Dunham also notes that a good percentage of spyware and adware are coming from overseas, where U.S. law has no sway over the people behind it.

Some industry watchers, however, say the biggest challenge to writing a strong anti-spyware law may come from industry itself.

''I'm very concerned that Congress will succumb to the word games that adware companies are playing,'' says Everett-Church. ''They are trying to define what they do as being different than the bad spyware people. Yet, compare adware and spyware and you'll find very few differences in terms of how it gets on people's machines, how hard it is to get off those machines, and how people are deceived. [The adware industry] is trying to buy some legitimacy through political access.

''If they're successful in watering down a spyware bill, then the fear is that it will be just as ineffective as the CAN-Spam Act has been, and that has been a dismal failure.''

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