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Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act

Location: Washington, DC

SECURELY PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST CYBER TRESPASS ACT -- (House of Representatives - October 05, 2004)


Mr. GOODLATTE. Madam Speaker, I rise today to discuss H.R. 2929, the "Safeguard Against Privacy Invasions Act."

I believe that there is a need to impose appropriate civil penalties against those who use software to commit egregious acts against computer users. In that respect, the provisions in H.R. 2929 that impose civil penalties on the truly bad actors, including those who use spyware to take over a user's computer to send spam, or those who engage in keystroke logging to steal personal information, are a step in the right direction.

However, I also have concerns that portions of the bill cast too wide a net and that they would have unintended consequences that could penalize the legitimize software companies that are actually trying to play by the rules. Many provisions of this bill would not only encompass spyware, but also legitimate interactive software services. I oppose the provisions of this bill that stretch beyond punishing the truly bad actors and instead create a static regulatory regime in an industry that is always innovating and changing to respond to consumer demand.

Also, imposing a notice and consent requirement for most software that is loaded onto computers could create unintended consequences. Specifically, when consumers are faced with the multiple notices that would be required under this bill, they will likely become desensitized and stop reading the disclosure altogether. The result could be a heavy-handed regulation that does not even achieve the desired goals of informing consumers and protecting them from spyware, especially since the truly bad actors are likely to simply ignore these regulations.

I have introduced legislation, H.R. 4661, the Internet Spyware I-SPY Prevention Act, which 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 more targeted approach is the best way to combat spyware.

While I have serious reservations about many portions of H.R. 2929, I also believe that it contains many civil prohibitions that would help in the fight against spyware. I support this bill, not in its entirety, but as an acknowledgement that some civil penalties are appropriate in the fight against spyware when properly targeted. However, I remain concerned about the broad regulatory aspects of this legislation, and hope to continue working to ensure that the final legislation is appropriately targeted at the truly bad actors, and that it does not cast a broad regulatory burden on those who continue to innovate and create new and exciting services in the interactive software industry.

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