Geeky legal beagles nail spammers

Monday, 26 May 2003, 3:49 PM EST

A battalion of lawyer geeks is taking on spam, spyware, security screw-ups, incomprehensible software licenses, useless privacy policies and many other ills plaguing computer users. The charge is being led by New York state's Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Spitzer and the lawyers that staff the attorney general's Internet bureau think crime isn't any less prosecutable just because it happens online.

They're fighting spammers by charging them with fraud and slapping down companies that don't live up to their privacy policies. They're also contesting the validity of the lengthy, legalese-packed software licenses that users have to click OK and agree to before applications will install.

Spitzer and crew even think that bad website security is a crime punishable by law.

"Elliot Spitzer is constantly educating himself on new technology," said Edward Hayes, a Manhattan lawyer who worked with Spitzer on a case about the disbursement of funds for victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. "And he uses what he learns to take quick action against any schemes intended to rip off the public."

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