updated 5/19/2004 3:56:43 PM ET 2004-05-19T19:56:43

Consumers would have to be told before information-reporting "spyware" was added to their computers if legislation approved Tuesday by the California Senate becomes law. The measure by Sen. Kevin Murray, a Democrat, was sent to the Assembly by a 36-2 vote.

Murray said consumers can unknowingly add the spyware to their computer systems when they buy software.

"These programs track what Web sites you visit, may steal your passwords, access your financial information, log your keystrokes, bombard you with pop-ups, track your purchases and remotely report your activity and personal information to a third party," Murray said

Republican Sen. Jim Battin said the spyware problem needed to be addressed on a national level, but action by California lawmakers would be a "good start."

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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