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Internet Spyware (I-Spy) Prevention Act of 2004

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Location: Washington, DC


INTERNET SPYWARE (I-SPY) PREVENTION ACT OF 2004 -- (House of Representatives - October 06, 2004)

Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 4661) to amend title 18, United States Code, to discourage spyware, and for other purposes, as amended.

(BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT)

Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on H.R. 4661, the bill currently under consideration.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Virginia?

There was no objection.

Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in support of H.R. 4661, the Internet Spyware (I-SPY) Prevention Act. This bipartisan legislation which I introduced with the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lofgren) and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith) will impose tough criminal penalties on the most egregious purveyors of spyware without imposing a broad regulatory regime on legitimate software providers. I believe that this targeted approach is the best way to combat spyware.

Spyware is a growing and serious problem. The Federal Trade Commission has testified that spyware appears to be a new and rapidly growing practice that poses a risk of serious harm to consumers. Spyware is software that provides a tool for criminals to crack into computers to conduct nefarious activities, such as altering a user's security settings, collecting personal information to steal a user's identity, or to commit other crimes.

The I-SPY Prevention Act would impose criminal penalties on the most egregious behaviors associated with spyware. Specifically, this legislation would impose up to a 5-year prison sentence on anyone who uses software to intentionally break into a computer and uses that software in furtherance of another Federal crime. In addition, it would impose up to a 2-year prison sentence on anyone who uses spyware to intentionally break into a computer and either alter the computer's security settings or obtain personal information with the intent to defraud or injure a person or with the intent to damage a computer. By imposing stiff penalties on these bad actors, this legislation will help deter the use of spyware and will thus help protect consumers from these aggressive attacks.

Enforcement is crucial in combating spyware. The I-SPY Prevention Act authorizes $10 million for fiscal years 2005 through 2008 to be devoted to prosecutions and expresses the sense of Congress that the Department of Justice vigorously enforce the laws against spyware violations as well as against online phishing scams in which criminals send fake e-mail messages to consumers on behalf of famous companies and request account information that is later used to conduct criminal activities.

In addition, the I-SPY Prevention Act is technology-friendly. It would not interfere with the development of technological solutions to block spyware. Many technologies are currently available to help consumers detect and rid their computers of spyware. As these technologies progress, we must be careful not to impose unnecessary burdens on these innovators who are helping to fight against spyware. Furthermore, by targeting the truly bad actors, this legislation would protect the ability of legitimate software companies to innovate and develop new and exciting products and services in response to consumer demand instead of imposing a one-size-fits-all regulation on the entire industry.

The I-SPY Prevention Act is a targeted approach that protects consumers by imposing stiff penalties on the truly bad actors without imposing excessive red tape and regulations on legitimate technology companies. I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation. I thank the chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary for bringing this legislation forward.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

(BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT)

Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I want to particularly thank the gentlewoman from California for her help in making this legislation possible. This is truly a bipartisan effort that has been broadly supported in the Committee on the Judiciary and by other Members of Congress. I think it is a very appropriate approach to a very serious problem. I also want to thank the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Coble), chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime, and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith), chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, who also were very helpful and very supportive as we moved this legislation forward.

There are a number of organizations. The gentlewoman from California mentioned some. I would like to call Members' attention to others that have indicated their strong support of this legislation, including the Information Technology Association of America; the Information Technology Industry Council; the Business Software Alliance; the Center For Democracy and Technology; NetChoice, a coalition representing e-commerce companies and thousands of e-consumers from across the Nation; the Internet Commerce Coalition; the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America; the Software Information Industry Association; and a host of individual companies and individuals who have been in touch with us about the ravages that occur with spyware and the phishing scam.

These are things that are great threats to consumers. We want them to feel confident when they use the Internet. The Internet holds great promise for people to be able to use the Internet for education, for commerce, for communicating with families and friends and people who share a common cause with them; but people increasingly know of the dangers they face on the Internet, from hackers and spam and pornography and people attempting to participate in various types of fraudulent schemes.

Many of those center around the use of spyware and phishing. These are threats to people's use of the Internet. We need to crack down on the people who perpetrate these actions. This is the legislation to do that, to make sure that people feel comfortable, that they themselves and their children can go online and have the opportunity to use the Internet with confidence that their personal information is not being stolen, that they are not becoming the victim of identity theft, that they are not confronting what looks like a Web site of a legitimate company using all of the technology available.

Some of these criminals will actually create a duplicate Web site that looks exactly like the original, but then attempt to use that Web site to extract information from you by suggesting that they need to update their account information or need your Social Security number or need your driver's license or some other personal information which they then intend to use to steal from your bank account, run up credit card bills, whatever the case might be. This legislation is designed to come down hard on those people.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support the legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

(BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT)

Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for her comments.

Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith), chairman of the Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property Subcommittee of the House Committee on the Judiciary and a real leader on technology issues in the Congress.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation, and I yield back the balance of my time.

(BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT)

Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.

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