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4/19/2005
02:44 PM
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Spyware Could Cost You $2M In Washington State

State lawmakers in Washington unanimously passed two bills that would target spyware and phishing.

State legislators in Washington have passed two measures intended to dissuade cybercriminals from even trying to steal the protected information of state residents and businesses. The bills, which target spyware and phishing, must be signed by the governor.

House Bill 1888 would put new teeth in 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. Republican Rep. Toby Nixon sponsored the bill.

Consumers and the state attorney general would be able to seek damages up to $500 per violation, or actual damages if phishers try to get consumers' information. Victimized Internet service providers could get $5,000 or actual damages. Judges could award an ISP three times the amount of fines if they so choose.

House Bill 1012 would instruct the attorney general to seek up to $100,000 or actual damages, whichever is greater, per nefarious use of spyware. Judges could increase damage findings up to $2 million. Both consumers and business owners could sue under this bill. Democrat Rep. Jeff Morris sponsored the bill.

Morris said in a prepared statement that the bipartisan effort "stiffens penalties for those who exploit E-mail and the Web for fraud."

In a prepared statement of his own, Nixon said, "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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