State consumer protection laws are sometimes stronger than federal laws. Leading attorneys general, in particular those in New York and Washington, have used such authority against spyware purveyors to levy penalties that are tougher than those the FTC can impose. In part because of this increased enforcement, consumer losses from spyware have declined 35 percent.
It may be unclear how state consumer protection laws, many written before the explosion of the Internet, translate to the online world. State attorneys general should review their state laws and provide clarity to the relevant units in their offices on what constitutes Internet crime and how such crime should be enforced. Where state laws are not adequate to protect online consumers, attorneys general should make recommendations for legislative action. This evaluation should consider laws in those states that have been active in policing Internet crime.
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