Time for a spyware takedown

Friday, 12 July 2002, 12:07 AM EST

Unsurprisingly to all but the most optimistic people, there are too many annoying pests crawling around the Internet -- viruses cooked up by unemployed black-hat hackers, pop-up ads that replicate like bunnies in a warren, and Day-Glo flashing bars announcing a sweepstakes prize or a new "malternative" beverage.

But I would take them all, in triplicate, if doing so would get rid of one particularly sticky cockroach: spyware.

So much ire has been spent on the Internet's nastiest scourge -- spam -- that there has been too little focus on where it comes from. It's akin to America's clumsy attempt to control drugs by busting 16-year-old Johnny for weed rather than by aiming at the grower.

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