Where it stops, the Senate knows.
The US House of Representatives has passed spyware legislation, with some differing approaches on penalties. One part fines creators of spyware code, while another allows for imprisonment of the distributors of it.
Now this doesn’t mean that every spyware purveyor is headed for the slammer. The bill leans towards those folks writing malicious code, and when that code is designed to “intentionally impair” the security of the target machine.
The prohibited spyware practices include keystroke logging, webpage hijacking, and unstoppable popup ads. Phishing exploits are also on the list, although I consider it a breed all its own, which needs some tough measures, all its own. Violators face penalties of up to $3 million. Unauthorized access to a computer for the purpose of committing a crime is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to five years. If the computer is accessed for transmitting personal information with the intent to defraud (or damage the computer), prison terms await for up to two years.
On to the Senate we go.