by Mike Masnick
Thu, Mar 13th 2008 11:39pm
Last month, we wrote about a bill proposed in the Senate that would outlaw phishing even though phishing is already illegal. If it merely restated that phishing was illegal, that would be one thing (a basic waste), but it also added some other points that were problematic, including taking away the right to anonymity in registering domain names. It turns out the bill may actually be much worse than that -- but it may depend on how it's read. The EFF has gone through the bill and claims that the bill would also outlaw the use of a trademark in a domain name. Thus, things like "sucks sites," which are currently legal, could now be considered illegal. The EFF also claims that it would not allow you the use of someone else's domain name in an email, web ad or on a website. As the EFF notes, if the domain name is used in a confusing manner, that's already a trademark violation. To completely ban it seems not just over the top, but dangerous. If you look through the text of the bill, it does seem to grant some leeway in determining what actually constitutes phishing, but it's certainly broad enough that the law can be abused. Considering that it isn't at all necessary since existing laws cover phishing, is there any reason to allow this bill to go forward, other than to have some Senators get a headline in their local newspapers about how they're tough on phishing?
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