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Internet Spyware (I-SPY) Prevention Act of 2005

Location: Washington, DC

INTERNET SPYWARE (I-SPY) PREVENTION ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - May 23, 2005)


Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the Internet Spyware I-SPY Prevention Act and thank the gentleman from Wisconsin, the chairman of the committee, for moving this legislation to the floor. This bipartisan legislation which I was pleased to introduce with the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Zoe Lofgren) will impose tough criminal penalties on the truly bad actors without imposing a broad regulatory regime on legitimate online businesses. I believe that this targeted approach is the best way to combat 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.

In addition to strong penalties, enforcement is crucial in combating spyware. The I-SPY Prevention Act authorizes $10 million for fiscal years 2006 through 2009 to be devoted to prosecutions and expresses the sense of Congress that the Department of Justice should vigorously enforce the law against spyware violations as well as against online phishing scams in which criminals send fake e-mail messages to consumers on behalf of well-known companies and request account information that is later used to conduct criminal activities.

The bill also directs resources to the Department of Justice to combat pharming scams in which hackers intercept Internet traffic and redirect unknowing Internet users to fake Web sites where they often trick consumers into giving their account information and passwords.

I believe that four overarching principles should guide the consideration of any spyware legislation: first, we must punish the bad actors while protecting legitimate online companies; second, we must not overregulate but, rather, encourage innovative new services and the growth of the Internet; third, we must not stifle the free market; and, fourth, we must target the behavior, not the technology.

The targeted approach of the I-SPY Prevention Act will protect consumers by punishing the bad actors without imposing liability on those that act legitimately online. In addition, this legislation will avoid excessive regulation such as one-size-fits-all notice and consent requirements prescribed by the Federal Government. A targeted approach will avoid red tape that hampers the creation of new and exciting technologies and services on the Internet.

By encouraging innovation, the I-SPY Prevention Act will help ensure that consumers have access to cutting-edge products and services at lower prices. Increasingly, consumers want a seamless interaction with the Internet, and we must be careful to not interfere with businesses' ability to respond to this consumer demand with innovative services. The I-SPY Prevention Act will help ensure that consumers, not the Federal Government, define what their interaction with the Internet looks like.

As we move forward, I look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to further ensure that bad actors are punished while legitimate businesses are protected including working with the Department of Justice which has expressed an interest in working with our office on this issue. In addition, technological solutions are crucial in winning the fight against spyware. As the spyware debate continues, I look forward to working to ensure that antispyware technologies are fostered and that they are not subjected to frivolous lawsuits from spyware providers.

I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.


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