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What Are The Legal Issues About Spyware

Jan 20, 2008
I need to begin this article stating that I'm not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

The existing laws deal with those items related to right to privacy and information acts in relation to communications. The fact there are many actions, which take place on computers not governed by existing laws raises the question is it against the law to steal data from someone's computer without permission.

The reality is many otherwise honest companies with whom people do business on the computer are dishonest in one critical area, which is the use of cookies to gather information. Yet can this or should this be defined as illegal since there really is not a body of legislation related to computer problems. It seems morality and ethics ought to limit the immoral and unethical behaviors, which cause computer problems but this is a very unrealistic view!

Stealing information from someone's office or home is illegal and can lead one to a jail sentence, but what about information stolen from a computer, is this legal? Some say yes, because a definite law forbidding it does not exist, others say it does not matter whether it is legal or not because, there is no way to know the names of the spies. This is a true statement to a degree, but there have been both "white hat" and "black hat" hackers accused and convicted of such crimes.

The recognition of the absence of appropriate laws to prevent illegal actions on the computer is something law schools are preparing law students for in the fight against spyware attacks on computers. The right to privacy act does not cover the act of placing spyware on someone else's computer, which is capable of damaging the computer and preventing the computer from working properly. spyware, which harms the hard drive in computers, is illegal based on moral, ethical standards but this is not sufficient to prevent it from happening.

Destroying someone's hard drive or any part of a computer is damaging or destroying the property of another. A person cannot come into your home and steal your computer, nor can the person take a sledge-hammer and smash your computer and yet the same person can place a piece of spyware into your computer and permanently destroy it completely or in part. The only action you can take is to buy a new computer.

There are more laws needed and law students and professors will continue to raise questions related to computer legislation for dealing with spyware and other forms of computer abuse. The government is beginning to act by writing laws, when their efforts bring success, the seemingly endless battle with spyware will improve. Meanwhile, those who own and use computers must depend upon honest companies to provide anti-spyware to fight the battle against spies for us.
About the Author
Andres Berger recommends Mozilla Firefox. Get it now and take some lessons on information security for free.
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