"Like spam, this new generation of malware has the potential to cost business in both economic and social terms, so laws are needed to address it," said Brian Greig, Democrat senator for Western Australia. "We are not banning spyware - it is stronger not to - we are ensuring the end user has given consent."
The law allows some spyware, but only with permission from the users whose machine it is on. In line with tough Australian anti-spam laws, ISP's will also face action if the knowingly host spyware.
"If spyware was being distributed knowingly through an ISP then that ISP will be targeted with a legal response," said Greig.
The move has been largely welcomed by industry experts who applauded Australia's continuing presence at the forefront of cybercrime legislation.
"They've done a lot of very good things," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "Some of the investigations against phishers are superb. Although legislation will never kill-off spyware altogether the ability to prosecute in a more straight-forward way has to be good news."
In April SC reported Australian police used the country's tough spam laws to raid the offices of a major spammer suspected of sending millions of spam emails every month.