We've all seen the results of the Can-Spam Act. Do we want to see similar results from federal anti-spyware legislation? Declan McCullagh at CNET fears that if politicians pass new laws against spyware, we could be in a worse predicament with spyware than we are now. For the most part I agree with what he says. There are already a number of state anti-spyware laws, many of which are stronger than any federal legislation would be. Declan notes that a number of adware company representatives have said they support federal legislation and quotes Avi Naider of WhenU saying his company "supports anti-spyware legislation at the federal level". Even Direct Revenue has a statement on their website saying "We favor industry regulation and fully support the Federal Spy Act." Claria has a similar statement. When adware companies are in favor of anti-spyware legislation, that's not a good sign for consumers. Indeed, spammers have thrived under the Can-Spam act because it made many of them just barely legitimate.
Declan also notes the Federal Trade Commission has said it already has the power to stop fraudulent and deceptive practices used by adware and spyware companies. To date, the FTC has filed complaints against two spyware operations, one last year and one just last week. My hope is that the FTC will continue to pursue adware/spyware pushers using deceptive and fraudulent practices. Perhaps that would diminish the push for new legislation. Consumers can submit complaints about spyware to the FTC here, as well as to the CDT (Center for Democracy & Technology) here.
Sunbeltblog also has some comments on Declan's article and legislation.