Internet surfers have been bombarded with spam, and sucked into downloading viruses.

But some see a more insidious problem, known as "spyware," which can lurk in the back-ground, track movements and sometimes "hijack" a computer.

Spyware is a loosely defined term for programmes downloaded onto a computer to monitor browsing habits.

Some consider spyware any programme that directs a user to advertising or generates pop-ups. The more nefarious ones can take control of a user's Internet browser, often directing it to pornography or commercial sites.

The proliferation of thousands or even millions of such programmes has fuelled a torrent of consumer complaints and prompted US regulators and lawmakers to jump into the fray.

"There is no more pernicious, intrusive activity going on on the Internet today," said Representative Joe Barton at a recent congressional hearing on spyware.


Write your congressmen now! Call your senator. Send letters to the FTC, don't let the tide turn back on this. The only acceptable answer is the end to all of this.