Spyware: a question

If you run Windows, you have spyware nowadays. More technically knowledgeable users who avoid Internet Explorer and take other precautions have less of it, but no one is immune. Spyware not only violates the privacy of computer users, but also cripples the operating system and software. Infected machines run slowly, crash often, and behave unpredictably. Frequently, even experienced technical professionals must reinstall their operating system completely and lose data.

Spyware is distributed by marketing agencies in well-run Western countries who operate legally.

Now, if I broke into a computer system run by a corporation and installed resource-hungry privacy-violating software that sent me information about their behavior, corrupted data, caused system failures, and all of the above, I would be guilty of a felony in the U.S. Doing this to systems that could threaten lives if they failed could make me eligible for the charge of industrial terrorism.

So, legally constituted corporations within the reach of my country’s laws are committing felonies on a grand scale. And considering the number of Windows computers that are attached to control systems which, if they failed, could cause death and destruction, it’s likely that they are also committing industrial terrorism.

Obviously someone is being paid off here. Does anyone have pointers to information on this?

Also, why hasn’t some enterprising populist politician here in the U.S. taken this as a crusading issue? There’s political capital to be made from all those enraged small business owners and home computer users who are being terrorized by this garbage.

3 thoughts on “Spyware: a question

  1. Good luck with this, because most politicos are technologically retarded. Not just candidates and officials themselves, but the consultants(I worked for one, and glimpsed the scary world in which they exist) who are employed by them.
    The Howard Dean people were supposedly “geeks” who weren’t smart enough to make backups of their voter files in Iowa. Heh. I’d laugh some more but this punchline pretty much writes itself.
    Look at the bigger picture – the DMCA was wholeheartedly backed by a good number of Democrats in the Senate(Fritz Hollings comes to mind).
    The closest I’ve seen to anything you’re describing are the anti-Spam laws in Washington and Ohio, but this brings up a bigger point and an actual problem with the internet: How do you regulate actions by borders in a situation where the borders really don’t exist? I don’t want to suggest that I.T is inherently subversive(at least not amongst the ‘power user’ category) but that’s pretty much a cliche’ at this point, but it often seems like that anyone with a good deal of knowledge trying to run their system the way he or she wants it, is going to feel the turn of the screw. In a world where they’re trying to pass a bill making it illegal to record a broadcasting without the commercials, I laugh. Pretty soon we’re going to be seeing Max Headroom in the living room.

  2. Obviously someone is being paid off here. Does anyone have pointers to information on this?
    I’ve heard that a lot of spyware originates from organized crime. This is the blatantly illegal stuff that tries to get your MS Money passwords. Perhaps they would influence lawmakers to go slow on the whole spyware issue. And as a side effect that protects the companies you’re talking about. Or maybe they’re even owned by the same people, ultimately.
    But that’s all tinfoil-hatty. Perhaps Rep. Rick Boucher would know more on why spyware laws are relatively toothless. He’s one of the few people in your government who seems to have a clue on this issue.
    Government incompetence is pretty boundless though. Maybe you don’t need to explain negligence with a payoff.

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