In what regulators are calling a first, the government has asked for a court order to shut down a spyware operation.
The Federal Trade Commission says computer users who went to certain Web sites unknowingly had the snooping software downloaded onto their computers.
The FTC says computer users can protect themselves from the growing problem of spyware by keeping their operating systems and Web browsers updated and by being cautious when downloading software. The FTC says in one case, this spyware caused a computer's CD-ROM tray to slide out -- followed by a popup ad which said that if the tray opened up, the computer was infected with spyware.
The FTC's acting director of consumer protection, Lydia Parnes, says selling software to fix a problem that you've caused is the very definition of "online chutzpah."
Parnes says such stories can hurt e-commerce retailers: "It's also difficult when there are programs that could be downloaded without a consumer's knowledge, and then consumers become wary about doing business online."
Congress is already considering a bill to outlaw such spyware.
Wallace denies any wrongdoing and says he's being made a scapegoat.
Up To The Minute Computer Consultant John Quain says spyware is just the latest threat to computer users, and only adds to the congestion caused by spam, viruses and worms. He suggests free programs such as "Adaware" and "Spybot Search and Destroy" to find and delete spyware programs on your PC.
The FTC says computer users can protect themselves from the growing problem of spyware by keeping their operating systems and Web browsers updated and by being cautious when downloading software.
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