July 14, 2006
Coddling Spies: Why the Law Doesn't Adequately Address Computer Spyware
Law Profs Alan Brakley (Cooley Law), Daniel Garrie (Rutgers-Camden) and Matthew Armstrong (Rutgers-Camden) has published Coddling Spies: Why the Law Doesn't Adequately Address Computer Spyware (Duke Law & Technology Review, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
Consumers and businesses have attempted to use the common law of torts as well as federal statutes like the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Stored Wire and Electronic Communications and Transactional Records Act, and the Wiretap Act to address the expanding problem of spyware. Spyware, which consists of software applications inserted into another's computer to report a user's activity to an outsider, is as innocuous as tracking purchases or as sinister as stealing trade secrets or an individual's identity.
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The coddling of spyware sounds like a rich vein to be mined by aggressive operators in the data brokerage field of enterprise. Large personal databases invariably contain information useful in getting to reprehensible, delinquent, or even dangerous individuals of some sort, so the usefulness of the product for ostensible good may overshadow the means of obtaining the information.
Perhaps there are incentives, in effect, for spyware installation, as well as for any successful form of hacking or cracking of personal or system data, as long as the end product may be attractively packaged and marketed. And if personal data cannot be successfully sold en masse to the good guys in government and business, then there might be a per name market appeal to curious adversaries, political operatives, investigators for profit, or those disposed to obsessive personal interest or stalking.
Posted by: tenode | Jul 16, 2006 1:19:46 PM