Although Congress is considering several bills to outlaw spyware, many spyware behaviors may already be illegal. At our Antispyware Workshop, the FTC's Lydia Parnes talked about its case against Seismic Entertainment, and I spoke with Justin Brookman, from the New York Attorney General's office, about his case against Intermix. Ari Scharwtz, from the Center for Democracy and Technology, explained how his group provided a lot of the evidence for the FTC case, and showed a slide detailing the complex financial arrangements of Seismic Entertainment.
The legal focus on spyware mostly deals with how it installs. More and more, spyware makers favor drive-by installs that give the user little or no notice. The Spitzer suit considers these types of installations to be deceptive. Personally, I think the entire adware industry was built on deceptive practices. While a new antispyware bill would clarify some things, laws covering fraud and deceptive practices may serve just as well.