"The debate over website information policies concerns whether industry self regulation or legislation is the best approach to protecting consumer privacy. Congress has considered legislation that would require commercial website operators to follow certain fair information practices, but none has passed. Legislation has passed, however, regarding information practices for federal government websites e.g, the E-Government Act (P.L. 107-347). Meanwhile, controversy is rising about how to protect computer users from spyware without creating unintended consequences. Spyware is not well defined, but generally includes software emplaced on a computer without the user's knowledge that takes control of the computer away from the user, such as by redirecting the computer to unintended websites, causing advertisements to appear, or collecting information and transmitting it to another person. Four spyware bills are pending; two have been reported or ordered reported from committee (H.R. 2929 and H.R. 4661). This report provides an overview of Internet privacy, tracks Internet privacy legislation pending before the 108th Congress, and describes the laws that were enacted in the 107th Congress."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31408