A handful of tech-savvy senators are tackling the growing problem of spyware with a proposed law that would make it harder for sites to inflict the invasive programs on unwitting users, and easier for the recipients to remove them. The Software Principles Yielding Better Levels of Consumer Knowledge (SPYBLOCK) Act would "give consumers control over the programs that are downloaded onto their computers," says cosponsor Barbara Boxer (D-California). The measure was introduced Thursday by Boxer and Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Conrad Burns (R-Montana). The bill tackles three aspects of spyware. It imposes new rules that would make it more difficult for companies to slip software onto users" systems surreptitiously; require easy directions and options for removal; and prohibit harmful spyware.
Under the proposal, if a company needs a user to install certain software to view Web site components or advertising, it would have to explain the reason and nature of the download in a pop-up window or another clear notice. This explanation would remain on the computer screen until the user either consents or declines to install the software. The act would make illegal the practice of downloading and installing software without alerting the user--a growing practice among some companies. If a user decides to install that software, it must be easily removable, according to the legislation. The application must appear in the Add/Remove Programs menu; be completely removable using normal, reasonable procedures; and, if it is an advertisement, it must include a link that tells the user how to turn off the ad feature or uninstall the software.
News source: PCWorld