The US House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday to combat the criminal use of Internet spyware and other scams aimed at stealing personal information from computer users.
Spyware, said the bill's Democratic sponsor, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, "is one of the biggest threats to consumers on the Internet." She and other lawmakers cited estimates that up to 90 percent of computers in this country are infected with some forms of spyware.
Spyware is software that secretly collects information about a person or organization and sends it to another without the original user's consent.
Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte, co-sponsor of the bill, said it had been written so that it "protects consumers by imposing stiff penalties on the truly bad actors" while protecting legitimate online businesses that are developing new services to keep track of user preferences.