|Summary:||Spyware is regarded as the largest threat to internet users since
spam, yet most users do not even know spyware is on their
personal computers. Ethical and legal concerns associated with
spyware call for a response. A balance must be found between
legitimate interests of spyware installers, who have obtained
informed consent of users who accept advertisements or other
marketing devices, and users who are unwitting targets.
Currently, there is not widespread awareness or understanding
of the existence of spyware, its effects, and what remedies are
available to defend against it. For industry sectors subject to
data collection and protection laws, spyware results in
unintentional noncompliance. This paper examines the ethical
and legal issues of spyware from a United States perspective.
First, the increasing prevalence of spyware is discussed.
Various types of spyware are then overviewed. Ethical and
legal concerns, including privacy invasion, surreptitious data
collection, direct marketing, hijacking, and trespass are
discussed. Finally, various methods of responding to spyware,
including approaches by consumers, industry, and the U.S.
government, are addressed, calling for a need to resolve
escalating concerns of users while balancing the beneficial use
of spyware as a legitimate marketing tool.|