For those engaged in this past time, they may want to think again. A bi-partisan bill was introduced this week aimed at ending the practice known as phishing. The Anti-Phishing Consumer Protection Act of 2008 would prohibit this deceptive solicitation of a consumer’s personal information through the use of emails, instant messages, and misleading websites that trick recipients into divulging their information for the purpose of identity theft.
We believe this is a step in the right direction. Phishing and on-line fraud has a detrimental effect on consumers’ trust and confidence and can eventually erode their desire to conduct e-commerce. These scams have increased dramatically with more than 3.5 million Americans (a 57% increase from last year) falling victim to phishing schemes and online identity theft throughout the past year. This came at a significant cost of $3.2 billion dollars.
This new legislation targets phishing attempts and the use of fraudulent or misleading domain names, by defining them as deceptive practices under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act.
It also seeks to solidify the integrity of domain name registration by making it illegal for a domain name registrant to provide false or misleading identifying contact information to the WHOIS database. Ensuring that the database is accurate and accessible is a goal for the e-commerce industry.
We commend Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) for understanding the complexity and importance of this issue and introducing this legislation.