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Mrs. BONO. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from Texas for yielding me this time.
The gentleman from Texas (Chairman Barton) has been a steadfast leader and advocate for spyware legislation. He has worked tirelessly on this important issue. I appreciate his efforts in bringing H.R. 29 to the floor. I also extend my appreciation to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Dingell), ranking member; the gentleman from Florida (Chairman STEARNS); the gentlewoman from Illinois (Ms. Schakowsky), ranking member; and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Towns), the original Democratic cosponsor. Each of them, as well as their staff, David Cavicke, Shannon Jacquot, Consuela Washington, Chris Leahy, Diane Beedle, Andy Delia, Dave Grimaldi; as well as my staffers, Jennifer Baird and Chris Lynch, have all worked diligently over the past 2 years to improve and refine this legislation.
I would also like to thank the industry participants and consumer groups who have contributed hundreds of comments on this legislation. I am confident that we have drafted a bill that incorporates several improvements that will empower consumers without impeding the growth of technology or on-line business models.
In the wake of recent data security breaches by ChoicePoint, DSW, Lexis-Nexis, and other companies, consumers are finally realizing the importance of data security and their vulnerability to identity theft. While consumers are waking up to these risks, many continue to remain unaware of the consequences of having spyware programs on their computers. Spyware is software that is downloaded on one's computer that collects personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, addresses, and phone numbers. This software passes personal information on to third parties without consent, or it is used to drive advertising to their computer. In short, it compromises personal data and can physically harm their computer.
Just how prolific is this problem? Here are a few of the staggering statistics: In a recent study by Webroot, the company identified at least one form of an unwanted program in 87 percent of the personal computers it scanned. Results from a consumer spy audit in 2005 found that 88 percent of personal computers scanned were infected with an average of 25 different spyware programs in each computer. In March, 2005, alone, a research system identified over 4,000 Web sites within nearly 90,000 total associated Web pages containing some form of spyware. Trojan horse infections grew by 30 percent since last year.
Mr. Speaker, this is not just a problem; it is an outright epidemic. As this Nation continues to push towards a global e-commerce marketplace, spyware stands to undermine the security and integrity of e-commerce and data security. Daily Web activities by consumers have become stalking grounds for computer hackers through spyware.
Consumers regularly and unknowingly download software programs that have the ability to track their every move. While some argue that consumers consented to these spyware downloads, the National Cyber Security Alliance and AOL found that 89 percent of users had no idea they had spyware on their computers. Moreover, there are Web sites and e-mail messages that deliberately trick computer users into downloading spyware.
In response to the rapid proliferation of spyware, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Towns) and I introduced H.R. 29. This bill prohibits such behavior by specifically outlawing Web hijacking, keystroke logging, drive-by downloads, phishing, evil-twin attacks and, several other perverse behaviors.
The concept of H.R. 29 is simple: tell consumers in plain English what personally identifiable information is going to be collected and how that information is going to be used. Consumers have a right to know and have a right to decide who has access to such highly personal information. Therefore, it is imperative that Congress pass this legislation and empower consumers while not impeding the growth of technology.
Earlier we heard my colleagues from the Committee on the Judiciary bring up their bill and talk about targeting behavior and not technology. I would ask them, what is Kazaa? Is Kazaa behavior or technology? What is Bonzi Buddy? Bonzi Buddy downloads a beautiful little purple gorilla which will dance about your screen which you cannot possibly eradicate from your computer. What is the Weather Bug? Again, the Committee on the Judiciary would say this is simply technology. I disagree. I say it is a terrible, terrible business practice, and it needs to be recognized by Congress. We need to stamp this out.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 29.