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Should the "good guys" be able to use spyware? Similar questions have been raised about police hacking. The methods that law enforcement officials are allowed to use to investigate crimes vary (as does public opinion, reports say) depending on what part of the world you are in.
In the United States, the FBI recently used a secret surveillance program, a computer and internet protocol address verifier, to catch an alleged teen bomb threat suspect.
A Connecticut, USA judge has granted a new trial for the so-called "Spyware Teacher" Julie Amero, who was facing up to 40 years behind bars after being convicted of exposing students to pornography on a classroom computer.
According to reports, the computer that had been the subject of debate in the trial was sent to a state laboratory following the trial, and those findings may contradict the testimony that had been presented by a state computer expert.
Robert Soloway, considered "one of the most persistent professional spammers" by Spamhaus, has been arrested following an indictment by a grand jury in Washington, USA on charges of mail fraud, identity theft, fraud and money laundering.
If convicted, Soloway faces fines of over $772,000 U.S. and could potentially face up to 65 years in prison.
On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Internet Spyware Prevention Act, which you may know as I-Spy, a bill that aims to create a federal law to take on spyware. I-Spy calls for:
- making it a criminal offense for an individual to place unauthorized code on a computer and use it to obtain or transmit personal information or to impair the security protections on the system.
- fines and prisons terms of up to five years for those responsible for such acts.
Sentencing in the so-called 'Spyware Teacher' case has been delayed - for the third time.
40-year-old Julie Amero was to be sentenced in a Connecticut court today (April 26). The case will now be heard May 18.
This time around it was the Assistant State Attorney who prosecuted the case asking for a continuance. David J. Smith wrote, "The state has not completed a full examination of all the issues which may affect its position at the sentencing hearing".
To all of us who have been the victims of spyware, it's blaringly clear that more needs to be done to penalize spyware distributors. Many in the security industry have called for consensus anti-spyware legislation in order to fully hold distributors accountable for their actions, and to deter spyware vendors from violating consumers' privacy.
In January, we brought you news of the N.Y., USA settlement that held advertisers, not just third party media buyers, responsible for ads delivered through adware.
But we haven't seen the end of advertisers displaying online ads through software installed without computer users? consent. Researcher Ben Edelman says that two of the companies in that N.Y. settlement have yet to sever their ties with spyware vendors.