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House approves anti-spyware bill

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Website security in corporate America

The US House of Representatives yesterday unanimously passed a bill that would make using spyware to snoop of the online activities of consumers a criminal offence.

The Internet Spyware Prevention Act would allow the courts to send offenders who use spyware to commit other crimes such as stealing user's credit card details, or computer cracking, to jail for up to five years.

The legislation authorises the US Department of Justice to spend $10m targeting organisations which sneak rogue programs on users' PCs without their consent. As well as spyware, the bill also targets people and organisation responsible for launching "phishing" attacks.

Earlier this week the House voted by 399 to one to pass the Spy Act, which would allow the courts to impose hefty fines on organisations caught using spyware.

The two bills are widely expected to be combined in a single piece of legislation that would be put to the vote in the House before the start of next year, AP reports. ®

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