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Spy Act of 2007 = "Vendors Can Spy Act"

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the legalizing-spyware dept.

Security 309

strick1226 writes "Ed Foster over at InfoWorld describes the Spy Act bill (H.R. 964) as having the same relation to the prevention of spyware that the CAN SPAM Act had to the prevention of spam. It allows exceptions for companies to utilize spyware for any number of reasons; if this bill had been law when Sony distributed their rootkit, they would have had perfect cover. Most troubling is that the bill would preempt all state laws, including those more focused on the privacy of people's data, and disallow individuals from bringing suit. It is expected to pass soon with 'strong bipartisan support.'"

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309 comments

Who is driving? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18862803)

Bear is driving!
How can that be (first post)?

Whhhaaaat? Ed "I need an enema" Foster is back at (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18863353)

Whhhaaaat? Ed "I need an enema" Foster is back at Infoworld? Good for them; I may add them to my favorites again. Looks like either IW got a new owner, or came up with some cash to pay the guy.

Legal, not moral (4, Interesting)

Potor (658520) | more than 6 years ago | (#18862817)

if this bill had been law when Sony distributed their rootkit, they would have had perfect cover.
but the protest would have been the same - it was more of a moral outrage than a legal outrage.

Re:Legal, not moral (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18862829)

But at least there was legal recourse to prevent them from continuing their actions.

Re:Legal, not moral (5, Insightful)

csmacd (221163) | more than 6 years ago | (#18862887)

Yes, organizations that distribute spyware care.

>sarcasm off

When organizations have the legal cover to do junk like this, they will. No amount of moral outrage is going to stop them, unless they monitor and report some random elected official's illegal activities.

Re:Legal, not moral (0)

computerchimp (994187) | more than 6 years ago | (#18862919)

if this bill had been law when Sony distributed their rootkit, they would have had perfect cover.

"but the protest would have been the same - it was more of a moral outrage than a legal outrage."

Yet another bonehead trying to get the first post in? Sony felt legal repercussions. I am not going to even justify this with any of the hundreds of links that show your statement to be completely false.

Re:Legal, not moral (1, Insightful)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 6 years ago | (#18862943)

but the protest would have been the same - it was more of a moral outrage than a legal outrage.
The moral outrage might have been greater, but it was the legal outrage - or at least the potential for one - that really made Sony do a 180. Moral outrages typically go completely unheeded by major corporations. I guess pretty soon we'll find out precisely to what extent a company can bend it's customers over before their objections become too loud for them to take. I'm betting it's pretty damn loud.

Re:Legal, not moral (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863609)

Moral outrage is not going to protect consumers. In the name of commerce, free markets and the consolidation of capital, we are losing every bit of privacy, security, integrity, dignity.

I think of the report in today's news about the collapse of the housing market. We're seeing a coming depression that is unique in that it will only affect the middle class. I reflect on the anger and aggression with which my credit card company deals with me and my wife just because we pay our bill in full every month. Our banker is shocked because we have paid our mortgage and aren't interested in refinancing our home "to pay bills, take a vacation. Living within our means, not participating in the orgy of consumerism makes us the enemy of those that would see us become indentured.

Tonight I heard a news article about the lenders who give student loans. They learned that there's more money to be made from having those loans go into default than to have the borrower repay, so they actually discourage repayment. Loan payment checks "get lost" so that late fees and penalties can be levied. The Department of Education knew about the crooked practices in student loans since 1998, but with the end of the Clinton administration and the emergence of the Republican majority in Congress in 2000, the problem was ignored. Foreclosures are at an all-time high.

They want to make us the consumables. Is it worth having a 42" plasma TV if you lose your soul?

Since no one here uses windows (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18862835)

I don't see who this will be a problem.

Re:Since no one here uses windows (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18862917)

I use Windows Vista you insensitive cl

Re:Since no one here uses windows (0, Redundant)

tehmorph (844326) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863241)

cl? Oh, right, you crashed whilst typing? Graphics drivers hanging on you? :)

Re:Since no one here uses windows (2, Interesting)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863029)

Well you make a very good point. In a certain respect, I wish they would legalize this stuff so companies will start installing load of spyware on every windows computer out there. Eventually some will turn to open source software.

A major success for Linux operating systems is because not only is Linux great (and it is.../special remark to keep the Slashdot horde from lynching me) but because Windows sucks so much. If Window was OS X all this time, I am not sure if Linux would have gained as much popularity....

Re:Since no one here uses windows (5, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863257)

this is actually way beyond windows.

it SEEMS that this bill gives vendor-tunnels the OK. and also it notes that they can be stealth. you know, like the sneak and peek procedures we have today.

yes, this is the electronic form of sneak and peek.

and that is why you should be afraid of this. it gives remote 'special parties', well special priviledges on YOUR BOX.

this is such a bad idea, it must have come from congress and/or special interests.

this surely has NO benefit to We, The People ;(

Re:Since no one here uses windows (4, Insightful)

bberens (965711) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863561)

More than that, now a government official can get a warrant for [insert major company] who will gladly allow them access to your system via their pre-installed spyware. They're in your network and you don't even know it. More snooping without the ability to detect or fight in court. Remember, they're looking at the corporations records, not looking at your box (which you stand a chance to fight in court).

Re:Since no one here uses windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18863621)

Do you think not running MS Windows will make you immune to spyware? Right now those spyware developers are not looking at *nix and Mac OS X (which is based in BSD unix) but when the economic opportunity is right and they have the time they will make spyware for these operating systems. When these operating systems get more and more popular and more people use them for personal home systems then they will target us like Windows. Right now it makes more economic sense for spyware developers to concentrate on MS Windows since they have about 90% of the OS market.
Rootkits for linux is already available for an while now and I had a older linux system here rootkited so I know the pain of being receiving end of a rootkit.
There is no such thing as an totally invulnerable operating system.

Look! Rights go down the hole... (5, Insightful)

Marrshu (994708) | more than 6 years ago | (#18862851)

... there go more of our personal rights simply to support the big business and such. Who wants to guess how long it'll take Sony to restart their whole rootkit campaign? Can't forget Microsoft and all those ISPs that want to spy on you. Big Brother is watching you after all

Re:Look! Rights go down the hole... (2, Insightful)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 6 years ago | (#18862899)

Democracy, privacy, and human rights are antithetical to the "free market". We either get to rule ourselves, or the corporations get to rule us. Guess which way it's turning out?

Re:Look! Rights go down the hole... (4, Informative)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863153)

Democracy, privacy, and human rights are antithetical to the "free market".

You're right on the first point, but you've got the last one backwards: without a free market (i.e. freedom to act as you wish so far as it involves your own property, and freedom to engage in voluntary exchange with others without coercive interference) you cannot exercise those "human rights." You have human rights to the exact extent that you have property rights; they are fundamentally inseparable.

As far as democracy is concerned, you don't live in a democracy (assuming you live in the U.S. or Europe). The U.S. is a constitutional republic, and the important aspect of such a government is the constitutional limits, not the elections.

Re:Look! Rights go down the hole... (0)

roscivs (923777) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863351)

As far as democracy is concerned, you don't live in a democracy (assuming you live in the U.S. or Europe). The U.S. is a constitutional republic, and the important aspect of such a government is the constitutional limits, not the elections.
I appreciate your point, but "democracy" and "constitutional republic" are not mutually exclusive (and in fact the U.S. is both).

Re:Look! Rights go down the hole... (2, Insightful)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863417)

You have human rights to the exact extent that you have property rights; they are fundamentally inseparable.

How do you figure? How is my right to speak or move or breathe air tied to my property rights --- unless you consider me someone's property?

Re:Look! Rights go down the hole... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18863201)

Democracy, privacy, and human rights are antithetical to the "free market". We either get to rule ourselves, or the corporations get to rule us. Guess which way it's turning out?

I, for one, do not welcome our new fascist overlords.

Re:Look! Rights go down the hole... (3, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863219)

Please note that the "free market" about which you're complaining deserves its name in quotes, because insofar as these the issues you are complaining about are market issues, they are not Free, and insofar as they are free, they are not market issues. Buying legislation is just rent-seeking [wikipedia.org] and as old as the hills.

Free Markets and Free Enterprise don't mean the freedom of Enterprise to do whatever the heck they feel like. It means a freedom for people to engage in enterprise (you know, selling things to each other) as long as they're both willing and able to do so. Nothing in this is contradictory with democracy or against human rights.

The contribution of funds to influence the political process is an entirely nonmarket affair. Blaming market economics for the hazards which are induced are roughly equivalent to saying "Hey, this guy got a job with $COMPANY and used the money to buy a gun and shoot people. $COMPANY is antithetical to human rights!".)

Re:Look! Rights go down the hole... (3, Informative)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863483)

Free Markets and Free Enterprise don't mean the freedom of Enterprise to do whatever the heck they feel like. It means a freedom for people to engage in enterprise (you know, selling things to each other) as long as they're both willing and able to do so. Nothing in this is contradictory with democracy or against human rights.

Tell that to the people of Bolivia after their water supply was privatized.

Re:Look! Rights go down the hole... (2, Informative)

RedElf (249078) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863387)

You seem a little paranoid, have you switched your desktop to OpenBSD yet?

Spying Is Ok... If You Have Money (4, Insightful)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 6 years ago | (#18862907)

So now they're just making the cash-enema legal? I guess it beats all the lying and sneaking and stealing... just change what's considered "legal" until you can do whatever you want!

If you have money.

Moral vs. Legal (4, Interesting)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863173)

Moral desensitization leads to legal deregulation. With enough exposure and promotion, the public will accept the legalization of just about anything (as history has shown). It is in the interests of large businesses to protect their market and to discover new markets by having the upper hand in intelligence.

The problem has become that legitimate and morally acceptable markets are generally well serviced and difficult to break into. Companies are therefore very tempted to create new markets, or break into markets which hitherto have been illegal (usually because they are viewed as immoral or socially destructive), such as porn, prostitution, addictive substances, and now privacy invasion.

As the only way to create these kinds of markets is to change legislation, these companies are very active in infiltrating and influencing government. The US government is particularly prone to this kind of corruption.

All of this is obvious. But the techniques used are subtle. They will try to sell the idea to make it appear to be in the public interest. Who knows, maybe we can expect to see a report of a missing child found because of spyware, or some shit like that.

Just have "bad stuff" described in EULAs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18862921)

Then teach people that the mere sight of an EULA means that "this software might fuck you" and that you better not take a chance with it. Software giants will have a choice: either they don't fuck the user and have no EULA, or they do and everyone knows about it.

Re:Just have "bad stuff" described in EULAs (2, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863115)

No, I think its right to point out the limitations and practicalities of installing certain software.
However, I believe they should be stated in one legible none scrolling frame.
Further information can be linked to any point, but what a user sees upon installation are clear plain English terms.

Re:Just have "bad stuff" described in EULAs (1)

Thexare Blademoon (1010891) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863503)

But if they do that, they can't screw people as easily. So then they'll need to find legitimate, non-customer-screwing ways to make money.

Apparently, that's more work than getting these lasws passed. Something seems horribly wrong there.

Re:Just have "bad stuff" described in EULAs (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18863569)

Modified English EULA:
1. This software does nothing so give us money for it.
2. Only you may use this software in only ways we choose but won't tell you so give us money for it.
3. Anytime you want to do anything with this software give us money for it.
4. We may, at any time, stop you from using this software and have you give us money for it.
5. Give us money.

Sony had perfect cover all the time. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18862927)

They had the Bush administration, who as we know is above the law, and puts anyone who GW Bush wants above the law.

The justice department said, and this is damned near close to a quote, "oh look how wonderful it is that Sony now knows that it can't do this now" and didn't prosecute.

The fuckers should have been in jail. If any of us infected millions of computers with a rootkit, they would have come after us with guns blazing.

Turn it around (1)

asamad (658115) | more than 6 years ago | (#18862939)

Okay, so form a company (buy an off the shelf company), buy some spyware and give/sell to your local politician (federal/state), see how they feel about the loss of their privacy

Politicians are supposed to represent the people who elected them, not the companies that spend the most money on them.

Oh well, good by democracy for the people and hello capitalism!

Re:Turn it around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18863209)

Oh well, good by democracy for the people and hello capitalism!


You cannot have capitalism without democracy, the two are inseparable. Capitalism requires a shortsighted puppet government to absolve it of social and environmental responsibility and accountability by providing the people the illusion of freedom and power.

Without democracy capitalism would last about as long as any other enslaving and totalitarian regime.

Re: SEPERATION OF BUSINESS AND STATE (2, Interesting)

SimBuddha (924737) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863287)

Government seems to exist now to create and enforce laws of big business self interests, by big business lobbyists, for big business ever greater appetite for exploiting and plundering shared resources and rights.

Our democracy is lost, we no longer live in a democratic political system. Just the illusion is promoted through propoganda.

Bravo Republicans, Democrats and corporate leaders. You have won at all cost and now all is lost.

The next paradigm is already begun and will be the reclaiming and exposing of the crimes against the people of the earth and the earth itself, by selfish empire builders running the world. Shamre on you and shame on us for not seeing the fundamental problem of our time.

SimBuddha.

get real ... (1)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863671)

The money buys the media time that drives the sheeple vote (and the rest of us away, with no alternatives), therefore the money is the vote. See "The Space Merchants" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Space_Merchants [wikipedia.org].

There is one party at the national level in the United States, the Demopublican Party, dedicated to the proposition that only their members have a chance to get a seat. Until the House of Representatives looks more like the Bundestag, where there are some real choices and representation of more than the 1.5 sets of delusions there now, it will continue to be the Reichstag, regardless of which wing of the Demopublicans have the most seats. If you think it's inflammatory, do some research. The National Socialist Party of early-mid-Twentieth Century Germany was firmly dedicated to a business-government partnership (with religious zealotry), regardless of it's impact on the average German farmer, craftsman, or shopkeeper. The only difference between the wings of the Demopublicans is WHICH industries are favored: the "demo" wing supports Hollywood's (and, to a smaller extent, Silicon Valley's) agenda, while the "publican" wing supports the "big", typically industrial and financial, businesses, and major stakeholders therein, agenda.

If companies can install spyware... (4, Informative)

LamerX (164968) | more than 6 years ago | (#18862953)

...then all spyware will be legal. COMPANIES are the ones who install spyware in the first place. It's there for ADVERTISING. Who does advertising? COMPANIES! This bill will only completely legalize spyware.

Re:If companies can install spyware... (2, Interesting)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863193)

And guess what... DMCA protects them from you removing their spyware! So if you use spybot or AdAware you're gonna be breaking the law. Nice to see the politicians are looking out for big business though. Who else wants to incorporate with me so we can get a crapload of legal immunities?

Re:If companies can install spyware... (3, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863457)

Please cite where in the DMCA that it is made illegal to remove software from your computer. I'm against the DMCA as much as you are, but that is just pure FUD. Yes, I've read the entire act. Have you even read it?

Re:If companies can install spyware... (2, Interesting)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863713)

And to top that off, companies like MS continuously try to collect information about other products (how many times has an app crashed on Windows, and Windows asks you if you want to send a report to MS?). With the broad coverage of this law, many companies will be able to collect whatever information they want in an effort to "better support you" which could end up becoming an escalating war with each other instead.

Add to that, if you have a website of almost any sort, this is grounds to install spyware on people's machines.

From the bill:
(1) any monitoring of, or interaction with, a subscriber's Internet or other network connection or service , or a protected computer, by a telecommunications carrier, cable operator, computer hardware or software provider, or provider of information service or interactive computer service, to the extent that such monitoring or interaction is for network or computer security purposes, diagnostics, technical support, or repair, or for the detection or prevention of fraudulent activities; or

Broad interpretations can abound from this one part... a website is an information service... it is also an interactive computer service...

Your VOIP service for that matter also fits in the telecommunications carrier and network connection or provider category.

Technically this means anyone with any sort of presence on the Internet can arbitrarily install spyware on anyone else's computer that comes into use of their internet presence (eg: surfing their web page, using their ftp server, etc).

How ridiculously broad.

Di not use Vista and other DRM enabled tech (5, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 6 years ago | (#18862967)

We had this discussion before. [slashdot.org] The law will make it perfectly legal to spy on you, and you new shiny OS will make it perfectly impossible (well, as long as DRM works) for you to prevent this by technical means.

People who say that it doesn't matter to them, whether Vista has DRM or not [slashdot.org] as long as they can play their games, maybe surprised to find out that the DRM may make it impossible for them to enjoy their games through enabling the spying and whatever other active measures that can be taken by spying software. Do you like modifying your games in any way? It may become impossible if you are on a DRM platform and you are spied upon. Of-course there are those, who would rely on the DRM to be broken [slashdot.org] but this is not a very good practice to rely on that, I mean there are so many problems with that, for example why would you trust a 'DRM removing patch' from someone to be spyware/rootkit free? It is better to avoid such products altogether. Avoid DRM products, avoid spyware infected products, that's the only way to really stay in the clear. Besides, isn't it illegal to remove 'security protection' under DMCA anyway?

Free Software becomes more and more attractive in this culture of customer spying and DRM locking every day.

Re:Di not use Vista and other DRM enabled tech (1)

statusbar (314703) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863161)

Free Software becomes more and more attractive in this culture of customer spying and DRM locking every day

until free software becomes illegal... Watch out for any upcoming "Intellectual Property Reform"

--jeffk++

More of this same FUD (1)

donutello (88309) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863407)

Vista's DRM doesn't prevent you from doing anything that you could have done on XP.

Re:More of this same FUD (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863473)

Vista's DRM doesn't prevent you from doing anything that you could have done on XP. - so it just sits there without doing anything? Ok, so it's broken then? So they'll fix it for you in the next patch update.

Another reason to use (4, Insightful)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 6 years ago | (#18862979)

...open source software. Even in the Linux world that means not using binary drivers. Who knows perhaps Nvidia or other binary drivers have a backdoor installed at the request of NSA. Is that probable - No. Possible? - Maybe. AT&T for example was diverting (still is?) a lot of the their data to NSA, if they wrote drivers, don't you think they would be willing to include a backdoor for U.S. government to use? For all we know such a backdoor exists in Windows. After a high number of cyber attacks on .mil, I am sure Uncle Sam can ask Microsoft to install a small code fragment that would allow access to any machine after say a pre-determined pattern of socket connection attempts or something like that.

Re:Another reason to use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18863303)

Another reason to have a separate network not connected to the internet. Computers are cheap. Just have your inet connected box clean with minimal apps on it. Do the interesting things on a non inet connected computer.

Third party (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 6 years ago | (#18862995)

This came from the newly-Democratic House of Representatives... so can we get a third party in there that isn't so technologically inept, and that isn't so beholden to corporate interests?

What about free software vendors (1)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863001)

Can they root kit my linux box to make sure that I'm not paying them any money for their software?

Re:What about free software vendors (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863125)

Not if free software == open source software for you. Do you use NVidia's binary driver or a wifi binary only driver? Well, NVidia could then include anything in there...

Re:What about free software vendors (1)

AndreyFilippov (550131) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863683)

No, it is the opposite. I believe you can legally install some of your software to BSA members computers/networks and watch if they steal any of the copyrighted (GNU GPL) code.

OK, What Am I Missing? (1, Informative)

rlp (11898) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863005)

Exception Relating to Security- Nothing in this Act shall apply to--

        (1) any monitoring of, or interaction with, a subscriber's Internet or other network connection or service, or a protected computer, by a telecommunications carrier, cable operator, computer hardware or software provider, or provider of information service or interactive computer service, to the extent that such monitoring or interaction is for network or computer security purposes, diagnostics, technical support, or repair, or for the detection or prevention of fraudulent activities; or

OK, your ISP can do network trouble shooting. Your HW / SW vendor can provide on-line tech support. Seems reasonable to me.

        (2) a discrete interaction with a protected computer by a provider of computer software solely to determine whether the user of the computer is authorized to use such software, that occurs upon -- (A) initialization of the software; or (B) an affirmative request by the owner or authorized user for an update of, addition to, or technical service for, the software.

Microsoft can run their "Genuine Advantage" crap. Not thrilled about it, but not surprised.

I don't see anything to get terribly alarmed about. What am I missing?

Re:OK, What Am I Missing? (5, Insightful)

powerpants (1030280) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863149)

I don't see anything to get terribly alarmed about. What am I missing?
The bandwagon.

Re:OK, What Am I Missing? (4, Informative)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863309)

Are you serious, or just trolling? Here are the key snippets: "or for the detection or prevention of fraudulent activities" and "an affirmative request by the owner or authorized user for an update of, addition to, or technical service for, the software".

The first part means that anyone who sold you hardware or software can snoop around on your machine if they are doing it to detect fraudulent activities - meaning when the activity hasn't happened yet! Yes, yes, you have nothing to hide. Are you sure? Your SSN is probably around somewhere. As is your bank account, or a lot of others things valuable to identity thieves.

The second parts means that anyone who ever wrote any type of software can access your machine in whatever way they please - as long as it's a discrete interaction.

This means that the security features in your OS are there only to prevent you from accessing everything in it. It is expected to remain open so that law enforcement, ISPs, software and hardware owners can check for anything they please.

In short, your computer is yours and secure only in name. Anybody else can trespass pretty much at will. If your computer is broken into and the other party says "I was just checking if anything fraudulent was going on", they're in the clear. Especially if they are a large corporation.

Re:OK, What Am I Missing? (5, Interesting)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863321)

Exception Relating to Security- Nothing in this Act shall apply to--

                (1) any monitoring of, or interaction with, a subscriber's Internet or other network connection or service, or a protected computer, by a... software provider... for the detection or prevention of fraudulent activities;


OK, your ISP can do network trouble shooting. Your HW / SW vendor can provide on-line tech support. Seems reasonable to me.

                (2) a discrete interaction with a protected computer by a provider of computer software solely to determine whether the user of the computer is authorized to use such software, that occurs upon -- (A) initialization of the software;


Microsoft can run their "Genuine Advantage" crap. Not thrilled about it, but not surprised.

I don't see anything to get terribly alarmed about. What am I missing?
You're letting intervening words distract you. See my excerpts in the quotation above.

So even if you have never installed, for example, Adobe software, Adobe can monitor your computer to determine if you ever run an illegal installation of Photoshop. No sunset on the monitoring; they can continually probe your machine in suspicion of piracy. That'll degrade your bandwidth. And not just Adobe will be permitted to do it, but every software vendor out there. They don't have to be your provider, just a provider.

Also "initialization" is a nebulous term. Are you sure you know how the law defines it? It could easily be phoning home with every launch, or perhaps with every forked process. A perverted vendor could treat it as initialization of any variable, constantly phoning home to make sure every thing you do does not violate their EULA.

Meanwhile, Windows Genuine Advantage has had a not insignificant number of false detections of installations as non-genuine. A little hiccup in an algorithm and they'll cripple the software. Better hope its use wasn't essential to your business. BTW, the EULA makes it clear it should never be used for any essential purpose and disclaims any liability for failure to operate.

Next, read the full text of the act for the prohibited behaviors and realize that with these exceptions it gives those entities license to do every one of them to you whenever and however often they'd like with impunity.

Re:OK, What Am I Missing? (3, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863357)

You are missing the part where spying on you becomes legal and you have no legal recourse to combat it in case if you are unwilling to be subjected to spying on the first place.

When you allow MS or your ISP to troubleshoot your computer remotely, you are actively giving them permission to do so, spying software does not require your active permission and in this case it doesn't even have to be disclosed to you that it is happenning. If you do find out, you have no legal solution to it except for removing the software (if it will allow you to remove itself on a DRMed system.)

Re:OK, What Am I Missing? (1)

wwahammy (765566) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863397)

I don't think the second one is near as big an exception as people are making it out to be. A software vendor is allowed to not abide by the act if they are solely (meaning the ONLY purpose) determining whether a user is authorized to use that specific software and its only in the legally prescribed scenarios. I don't necessarily like the idea but its not really that broad an exception. They should just require that the company inform the user what they are doing.

The first one is rather broad because it allows an ISP to detect or prevent fraudulent activities without defining (at least as far as I know) what fraudulent activities are. If it includes every posssible fraudulent activity, that means the ISP has the right to everything on your computer. That is a serious issue that goes well beyond any current legal activity.

What is excepted should be better defined as well. If these two exceptions are included, (and I hope they're not, at the very least the first one) they should still provide notice to the user that what will happen and why it's happening.

legal repercussions (1)

computerchimp (994187) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863017)

For the knob who said: ""but the protest would have been the same - it was more of a moral outrage than a legal outrage." Just trying to get the first post in? Living under a rock? Are you a troll? There are hundreds of articles on the net and in newspapers of the legal repercussions that Sony was hit with. Lawsuits and compensation were legal repercussions. Just Google it.

Re:legal repercussions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18863653)

A non-tech friend said he read about it in Rolling Stone magazine. That is as far as some music listeners get in regards to news. So more people than just us techies heard about it.

Nobody worry!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18863035)

I own the patent for the use of spyware for ensuring proper licensing of software. Yeah the patent office dropped the ball on that one but now we are all winners because if they root kit your windows box they'll have to pay me millions. Well, at least I'm a winner.

Seems like a non-issue to me. (4, Insightful)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863047)

What's the deal?

Why do people think you can legislate your way out of these issues? Spyware, spam, etc . . .

For e-mail, use a system that is not susceptible to spam (good filtering, and a white list).

For software, use a system that is not susceptible to spyware (OS X, or Linux).

Spyware doesn't bother me now, it hasn't bothered me in the past, and it won't bother me in the future. If you've got a problem with spyware, either stop buying products from the people who are infecting your system (ahem, Sony), of stop buying systems that are prone to infection (ahem, Microsoft).

If a company sells you an unsafe car, do you blame the government, or the car company? And having been sold 2 or 3 unsafe cars already, why would you go back to the same vendor?

Non issue. Something Congress shouldn't discuss or legislate about. Get over it, and stop being a slave to the MS monoculture.

Re:Seems like a non-issue to me. (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863181)

I agree. I'm not trying to troll, but I actually like spyware and viruses, to an extent. I always laugh when I read about some corporation getting infected with a Windows worm, and it costing them millions of dollars in downtime.

If you're dumb enough to keep going back to the same vendor after getting burned by their products so many times, I think you deserve whatever happens to you.

As the saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again." Err, you know what I mean.

Re:Seems like a non-issue to me. (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863223)

If congress passes a law making it legal to produce and sell cars that are unsafe I blame the government.

Make congress care (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863063)

Deduct your lost bandwidth and cpu cycles and disk space from your taxes. And the lost potential revenue of selling you're consumer info. (sometimes you can get things with material value for filling out a survey)

wait! (2, Interesting)

Renraku (518261) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863159)

Email your..no write..no call...well hell. They don't care anyway.

Soap box, check. Ballot box, check. Anyone remember what came next? Jury box? How do we get in on that? Oh well, probably won't work. Lets skip it and go straight to the ammo box.

What can we reasonably do against a government that sits there and sells our freedoms to the highest vendor? It won't be long before we're forced to pay three easy payments of $599.99 for a new TV-doo-hickie to watch us while we're watching TV. In the name of advertisement, of course, to figure out how we react to some shows.

Just wrote to my Congresswoman (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863183)

Much to my annoyance, Anna Eshoo, the local congresswoman for Silicon Valley, is a cosponsor on this turkey. I sent in a letter. This thing needs some work in committee to clean it up, preferably well enough that EPIC is satisfied with it.

blame the OS (4, Interesting)

Grinin (1050028) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863205)

I think that software companies behind the Operating systems being used today should take full responsibility at prevention and removal of spyware/adware/malware. There should be no need for anti-virus software. Microsoft should stay ahead of virus writers in order to patch systems with vulnerabilities, and in a much better way then the present.

This weekend, I was given a PC that needed to have viruses, spyware, malware removed... I thought it was a joke, this thing looked like a honeypot. It had every trojan known to man on it, every piece of spyware, backdoor, and virus had infected it, and no form of security (besides Service Pack 1 for XP). After 4 days straight trying to remove them (formatting not being an option, because the person was missing their OS restore cd and/or Windows XP home edition CD) I have finally gotten all of them removed... but my point, is that none of this should have ever been possible. An operating system should be designed more intelligently than those who want to exploit those same operating systems. I'm sure if they took the same amount of time they spend trying to promote new products and put it into better R&D for patching vulnerabilities, none of this would happen... but I suppose we don't know who scratches whose back in the world of Operating system / Anti-virus vendor's anymore....

Re:blame the OS (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863581)

The problem isn't holes in the operating systems. It's holes in the users brains. How can MS stop you from running a program that you want to run? Who are they to say which programs are safe to run? Sure there's been a few problems with open ports and network worms, or automatically executing email attachments, but the majority of malware out there comes from people who download, install, and run it out of their own free will. How is MS or any other OS vendor supposed to stop that?

Re:blame the OS (1)

Katmando911 (1039906) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863607)

I totally agree... because it's sooooo easy to secure a complex operating system. Come on, ANY moderate to complex piece of software is going to have at least one bug in it which can be used to exploit the system. The reason why Windows appears so much more insecure than Linux is because you have a lot more people looking for and trying to exploit those bugs. If you want a more secure OS, get a smaller OS (Less things to go wrong and therefore capable of being exploited) or get an OS that less people use (so there's no motivation to find the bugs to be exploited). If everybody stopped using Windows tomorrow, some other OS (OS X, Linux, etc.) would step in to fill the gap and then it would start having the same security issues that face Windows now. What I'd like to see is for something like http://www.eclipse.org/ [eclipse.org] to be able to run natively on hardware without the OS layer. Then we could have a micro-kernel that could then load which ever packages were needed for the task at hand. There would still be bugs but less of them would be targeted at the 'OS' and more at a vulnerability at some package loaded to the OS.

Re:(DON'T) blame the OS (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863707)

Problem is the user themselves probably either actually installed or authorized 50% of what you found.

Did they have a clue what they were doing? No. Should they have been allowed to install software on their computer if they didn't know better? No.

If the OS can prevent or allow installation of software, you can't blame the OS for allowing the user to install software. You can lock Windows down so installation of trojans, spyware, etc. is impossible. What you then have is an email/web surfing appliance. Which is probably what your user really needed.

Yep (1)

iamtheantipudge (1091487) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863227)

Suck it up Gringos. I gotta ask, How much can you people swallow before you need your stomach pumped? More than Rod Stewart?

Re:Yep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18863627)

you racist bastard, by gringos, and you people i assume you are referring to caucasians, how would you like it if i were to refer to you as a spic you racist bastard!

RIAA (1)

CriminalNerd (882826) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863271)

This bill smells...and it smells of horrible pop music and RIAA lawyers... And even if they are not involved in the creation of this bill (which I doubt given their attempts to legislate their ideals of copyright protection), I bet they would support it wholeheartedly.

Just who... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863363)

Just who does Congress think they're serving here?

Ask your congress-critter just how this vote benefits You! If they can't give you a good answer to this, ask them why they're still in office.

Did anyone expect anything else? (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863371)

Did anyone actually expect a law that limits the power of businesses and hands some back to you? Can you name a single law that was created in the last, say, 7 years that actually promotes privacy and limits the power businesses have over you?

Oh, yes, it "outlaws" spyware... with a few hand picked exceptions that can be summed up with "spyware is outlawed unless some company uses it".

In fact this legalizes spyware rather than outlawing it. Until now you could at least try to get a lawsuit going and at least get a humiliating settlement (humiliating for you, not the corp using spyware against you). See the Sony rootkit trials for details.

With this in effect, the judge would have to throw it out of court even before anything starts, because it would certainly fit the "exceptions".

SCROLL DOWN!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18863375)

SCROLL DOWN!!! ...

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SCROLL DOWN!!!

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SCROLL DOWN!!!
A: Apple, B: Ball, C: Cat, D: Dog, E: Elephant, F: Fish, G: Goat, H: Hen, I: Igloo, J: Jet, K: Kite, L: Lion, M: Mop, N: Nest, O: Octopus, P: Pig, Q: Queen, R: Rabbit, S: Sun, T: Tiger, U: Umbrella, V: Van, W: Wagon, X: X-Ray, Y: Yo-yo, Z: Zebra...

For the basic letters there are six songs. The songs repeat over and over on each following page.

The letter A says a and ahh...The letter a is here to say ahh in apple, yippee yeah. The letter a is here to say the ahh in apple yea!

The letter B says Ba: The letter B really swings Ba is the sound it brings. Ba in Ball, and I sing the letter b really swings.

The Letter C say Caa and sometimes c (Sss). The C is what you found ... caa caa, that's the sound...The letter C is what you found ca as in cat.

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The Letter E says e and ea. E is a letter . uh- huh. It makes the sound ea, That's right! Sing along with the song. ea ea elephant!

The Letter F says ff. Fiddley Dee Fiddley Dee the letter f has something to say. Fiddley Dee Fiddley Dee hear the ff in fish today.

SCROLL DOWN!!!
Press Briefing by Dana Perino - 4/23/2007

MS. PERINO: Hello. I'm going to start off today with a statement by the President that will be released after I provide it to you here, about the death of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
Press Briefing by Dana Perino - 4/18/2007

MS. PERINO: I have a few announcements, and then we'll get ready to answer your questions.
Press Briefing by Dana Perino - 4/16/2007

MS. PERINO: Good afternoon. I have several announcements and then we'll go to questions.
Press Briefing by Dana Perino - 4/13/2007

MS. PERINO: Good afternoon. Happy Friday. Okay, I don't have anything to announce. I'll just go to questions.
Press Briefing by Dana Perino - 4/12/2007

MS. PERINO: You heard from the President this morning. The United States strongly condemns the attack on the Iraqi parliament against the democratically elected government of Iraq. This attack demonstrates that the terrorists and extremists will go to great lengths to disrupt the Iraqi government, one that is working for peace and stability in not only their own country, but in the region. The United States and Iraq cannot and will not let those terrorists succeed. We continue to monitor the situation, and we are a part of the investigation to find out how it happened, and we will provide you as many updates as we can as the day continues.
Press Briefing by Dana Perino - 4/11/2007

MS. PERINO: I have two announcements, and then I'll take questions. It has been 65 days since the President requested emergency funding for our troops. Our military leaders have said they need this funding by mid April to avoid significant disruptions and hardships. Yet the Senate's Majority Leader insists that they will be fine until June, and yesterday said the urgency is only in the President's head.
Press Briefing by Dana Perino - 4/10/2007

MS. PERINO: Welcome back, everybody. I don't have any opening announcements, so we can go straight to questions.
SCROLL DOWN!!!
http://blogs.chron.com/whitehouse/archives/perinon yt.jpg [chron.com] CLICK HERE!!!
http://media3.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/ph oto/2006/06/14/PH2006061402244.jpg [washingtonpost.com] CLICK HERE!!!
http://www.colostate-pueblo.edu/news/images/AlumSe cretary.jpg [colostate-pueblo.edu] CLICK HERE!!!
http://72.14.209.104/search?q=cache:lphorMMQJZUJ:e n.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dana_Perino+Dana+Perino&hl=en &ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&client=firefox-a [72.14.209.104]
SCROLL DOWN!!!

So who is to blame for this bill Congress? (1)

ZoOnI (947423) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863389)

With a Democate controlled congress we think everything thing the congress does is considered to be Democrate sponsered. Some bad moves have been their intiatives.

This bill is not one of them. This bill is sponsered by the Republicans "Rep Towns, Edolphus" and 36 of his republican collegues see http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:H.R.9 64 [loc.gov]:.

Its important to see the individuals who are supporting this kind of legislation so we can keep an eye on them and I think its poor reporting not to give all the facts.

Re:So who is to blame for this bill Congress? (1)

BoberFett (127537) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863633)

Great, then the Democrats can shoot it down. I won't hold my breath waiting for them to do so. If you choose to, let us know how that works out for you.

Just because it's a problem (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863409)

Doesn't mean the industry wants to find a solution.

They say one thing.

And spend money lobbying for another.

Tidal standing wave of unchange '04 (1)

ShagratTheTitleless (828134) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863431)

This leads me to reflect that in the last election we replaced republicans who had sold out to stay in power with democrats who sold out to get in power. Fucking awesome.

Big Brother (1)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863433)

If you haven't already.. now would be a great time to read George Orwell's book 1984, because it seems we're getting closer and closer to the state of corporate spying and invasion of our private lives.

For those interested, here is the entire book in pdf [msxnet.org] format.

I am calling my represenative tommorrow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18863467)

I am calling my represenative tomorrow and complaining big time! There is no need for the states to loose protection.

I encourage everyone to go to: http://www.house.gov/ [house.gov], locate your rep, and leave a voice mail! Imagine what will happen when users download industry stuff to corporate computers. I know Texas A&M University has already had it share of security holes recently, and do not need anymore! Do companies and universities really want more? Just imagine users and students installing all sorts of stuff on their computers, and all the holes it will bring. Come on now, we have to speak up and write, call, and communicate! :) :)

This frustrates me to no end!

Bad news for Vista... (1)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863475)

Here's Microsoft making a concerted effort to try and keep spyware off peoples computers, and the government turns around and makes it legal. I hear their first official service pack has been put on hold for a couple months and the name's been changed to 'Vista Loosey Goosey'. All those durn security issues have finally been fixed...

Let me put it to plain english : (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863587)

Administration says this :

"We were trying to do spying through government agencies, but it seems that due to public pressure we will have to eventually let go of it. So, we put out this act to allow private companies to spy on people, so we will be able to continue spying through private companies that are affiliated with us. And as its private and everyone can do this, noone can object"

Simple response (1)

A coward on a mouse (238331) | more than 6 years ago | (#18863635)

Blockquoth the poster:

Exception Relating to Security- Nothing in this Act shall apply to--

(1) any monitoring of, or interaction with, a subscriber's Internet or other network connection or service, or a protected computer, by a telecommunications carrier, cable operator, computer hardware or software provider, or provider of information service or interactive computer service, to the extent that such monitoring or interaction is for network or computer security purposes, diagnostics, technical support, or repair, or for the detection or prevention of fraudulent activities.
....
OK, then. All that's needed is for a "software provider" (read: anyone with an account on sourceforge or freshmeat) to start "deploying" (read: deliver via trojan or other backdoor) a "poorly-written" (read: amazingly resource intensive) program to check for "fraudulent activities". My understanding is that this would be perfectly legal; the campaign could be accompanied by public statements (anonymous or attributed) explaining the situation.

Naturally, this idea wouldn't really work... The brave soul(s) undertaking this might or might not escape prison, but it's doubtful the law would be repealed. Oh well.
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