Representative Mary Bono (R-Calif.) introduced a new bill, cosponsored by Representative Edolphus Towns (D-NY), that would regulate computer spyware that companies use to gather various information from users.

Companies use Spyware programs to track Web surfing, software use, Internet connections, and more. The problem is prevalent, and several developers have released software that cleans known spyware from a user's system.

According to Bono's press release, the new bill (Safeguard Against Privacy Invasions Act--H.R. 2929), would require "any organization that offers spyware to post an agreement clearly and conspicuously informing the computer user of the presence of spyware and its intended function. The spyware provider would be required to post the mechanism for accepting such an agreement on the same page as the Web agreement, and could not load such spyware without obtaining proper consent."

"Furthermore, if a software company is installing spyware that collects personally identifiable information, it must post a separate notice stating specifically that it is collecting such information. The user is then required to accept these conditions before it can be installed on the computer."

The bill would also require that companies disclose their name, street address, and valid return email address. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would become the regulating authority (should the bill become law) and could impose civil penalties for noncompliance and criminal penalties for willing violators.