What you can do about a bill that will hurt your domain assets.
Over the past week a lot has been written about the Senate’s so-called anti-phishing bill. On February 25, 2008 U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe introduced S. 2661, the “Anti-Phishing Consumer Protection Act of 2008â€ (APCPA). The bill is also cosponsored by Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Ted Stevens (R-AK).
This isn’t a bill to stop phishing. It’s a bill to give people another avenue to take your legitimately and legally owned property (domain names) away from you. If you read the bill, you’ll see that it allows anyone with a business (regardless of how big or small, when it was organized, or if it’s trademarked) to go after your domains. Heck, a store could open up with the name “Domain Name Wire” and try to take this site away.
We have UDRP. We have the anti-cybersquatting act which fines cybersquatters up to $100,000 a year. Now we have the “anti-phishing” bill, which will do absolutely nothing to stop phishing but will result in a flood of reverse domain name hijacking attempts.
This article sums up a comment about the bill, points you to where you can read more about it, and then tells you how you can stop it.
Comments on the bill
Declan McCullagh of CNET writes: “It contains 31 pages of new regulations that could raise the cost of doing business for legitimate companies (emphasis added) –but will do little to stop the malcontents behind phishing attacks…Remember, phishing is already a crime.”
GoDaddy Chief Counsel Christine Jones, in response to an inquiry from Domain Name Wire, said: “We have reviewed the bill and think it is a good start. There are some things we would like modified in this bill. One of the main issues deals with privacy on domains. We created Domains By Proxy because a woman was terrified about having her personal information online. She had a stalker and was worried he would not only find her Web site, but her personal information as well. It would be a shame if a few criminals ruined a valuable service for everyone.”
Essentially, this poorly written bill would let anyone make a false claim that requires whois privacy to be removed, gives anyone the right to file bogus trademark claims with penalties of up to $6M, and won’t do a thing to stop phishing.
Remember, phishing is already a crime. And phishers don’t live in the U.S., so they’ll skirt this law anyway.
Where you can read more
The best summary of this bill and its harmful side effects can be found on Internet Commerce’s web site.
It’s also worth reading up on one of the bill’s sponsors, Ted Stevens (R-AK). If you’ve never heard of Stevens, he’s the “King of Earmarks”. In 2005 he got an earmark for $223 million to build the “bridge to nowhere”, connecting to an Alaskan island of 50 residents. When a fellow senator asked him to divert that money to hurricane Katrina victims, he famously shouted “NO!”.
More relevant to this issue, Stevens is known for his inept understanding of the internet. Last year, with telecom firms’ dollars in his pocket, he railed against a proposed amendment to a net neutrality act. He said “an Internet (sic) was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday [Tuesday]. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially.” Stevens compared to internet to “a series of tubes.”
What you can do to stop this bill
Sadly, bills like this get passed all of the time. With a title “anti-phishing”, wouldn’t your first instinct be to vote ‘yes’?
Here’s what you can do to stop this bill from passing in its current form:
1. Join Internet Commerce Association. This is the only group that is fighting to protect your interests and is actively fighting this bill. You can join for only $295. If you’re new to the industry and can’t afford that, the organization welcomes any size donation. A percentage of the donation is tax deductible.
3. Contact your registrar and ask them to fight the bill. Registrars have a lot to lose, not the least of which is their cost of doing business will rise dramatically. Odds are your registrar has more money than you, too. Ask them to join Internet Commerce Association (see #1).
4. Write about the injustices of this bill. If you have a blog, blog about it. If you visit forums, post about it.
5. Let the companies that are members of CADNA, which supports this bill, know that you’ll be taking your business elsewhere. That includes:
American International Group, Inc.
Bacardi & Company Limited
Compagnie FinanciÃ¨re Richemont SA
Eli Lilly and Company
Hilton Hotels Corporation
HSBC Holdings plc
Marriott International, Inc.
Verizon Communications Inc.
Wyndham Worldwide Corporation
An easy way to let these companies know is to contact their public affairs or public relations groups.
6. Did I mention you need to join the Internet Commerce Association?
Stop phishing. Stop cybersquatting. But don’t let people steal your domains.