Washington State Enacts Anti-Spyware and Anti-Phishing Legislation - InformationWeek

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Washington State Enacts Anti-Spyware and Anti-Phishing Legislation

Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a bill instructing the attorney general to seek up to $100,000 or actual damages, whichever is greater, from those who place spyware software on computers.

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire signed two bills aimed at protecting computer users from spyware and phishing.

On Wednesday, Gregoire approved legislation instructing the attorney general to seek up to $100,000 or actual damages, whichever is greater, from those who place spyware software on computers without permission of the computer user. Judges could increase damage findings up to $2 million.

"Computer users expect their property and privacy to be protected from criminals who would steal their personal information or trespass on their computers," state Rep. Jeff Morris, sponsor of the spyware bill and chairman of the House Technology, Energy, and Communications Committee, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "This new law sends a clear warning that secretly implanting spyware and other unwanted programs will be punished."

Last week, the governor signed a measure that strengthens the state's Consumer Protection Act, which holds phishers liable after they steal protected information. The update makes it a crime to even attempt to steal the data through false E-mails and spoofed sites. When the House passed the bill last month, Rep. Toby Nixon said in a statement, "We need to keep our state code current to address crimes as they evolve and respond to criminals as they become more sophisticated."

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