Ars Technica reports the U. S. House of Representatives today passed legislation by voice vote to criminalize spyware and other scams stealing personal information from users. If the Senate and President concur with the bill (first reported here on May 2), spyware creation and distribution becomes a federal felony, with five years maximum prison time. Obtaining or transmitting personal information with the intent to injure or defraud a person or damaging a computer could lead to two years jail time. The Justice Department also gets $40 million to fight phishing and pharming.

H.R. 1525 “is one of the biggest threats to consumers on the Internet” said Sponsor Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose, CA). She and other lawmakers cited estimates that up to 90% of U.S. computers are spyware-infected.

There’s no similar bill yet in the Senate.

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