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Patricia Moloney Figliola, Spyware: Background and Policy Issues for Congress (CRS Report RL32706) (Jan. 12, 2011) (full-text).
The term "spyware" generally refers to any software that is downloaded onto a computer without the owner's or user's knowledge. Spyware may collect information about a computer user's activities and transmit that information to someone else. It may change computer settings, or cause "pop-up" advertisements to appear.