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House passes anti-spyware bills

Asks Senate to take its pick

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The House of Representatives approved two anti-spyware bills on Monday. The bills take markedly different approaches to fighting the growing problem of invasive programs that snoop on user's online activities, effectively leaving it up to the Senate to thrash out a solution.

The Internet Spyware (I-SPY) Prevention Act of 2005 makes the unauthorised access of computers using spyware a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in prison. The second bill - called the SPY Act - requires firms to get the informed consent of users before installing programs on their PCs. Both bills have been sent off to Senate for further consideration, after been approved in the House by overwhelming majorities.

Similar anti-spyware legislation was introduced in Congress last year but concerns about how the rules might affect legitimate internet business lead to them running out of time before a consensus could be agreed. ®

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