The U.S. House of Representatives Thursday held a hearing on spyware, the newest computer security problem getting the attention of lawmakers.
The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, chaired by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tx.), took testimony from and asked questions of a panel of industry and government agency witnesses, including representatives from Microsoft, EarthLink, and the Federal Trade Commission.
"It's reprehensible for someone to download software to trick us into revealing details about our private lives," said Rep. Cliff Stearns (R.-Fla.) in an opening statement before the committee.
Spyware is the label used to describe the small applications that are planted on PCs -- without the user's permission or knowledge -- from file-sharing software, Web sites, and e-mail messages. They're typically used to track a surfer's online activity, and can be used to capture keystrokes and copy personal data from hard drives and transmit it to attackers.
Like the Senate, where a trio of lawmakers have introduced a bill to limit spyware, the House has introduced legislation that would require that consumers receive a conspicuous notice prior to downloading spyware. House bill 2929, dubbed "The Safeguard Against Privacy Invasion Act," or SPI Act, was sponsored by Rep. Mary Bono (R.-Cal.).