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DMA Praises House for Passing Spyware Legislation
Washington, DC, May 24, 2007 – The Internet Spyware Prevention Act of 2007 (“I-SPY”), passed yesterday by the U.S. House of Representatives, is an important step toward helping making the online environment more secure and protecting Americans from fraud and identity theft.
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) strongly supported the I-SPY ACT (H.R. 1525) and extends its appreciation to sponsors Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) for their bipartisan efforts in helping bring about this important legislation.
The I-SPY Act makes it a criminal offense, with a prison term of up to five years, to access a computer without authorization in order to commit a federal criminal offense. The bill also makes obtaining or transmitting personal information for the purpose of injuring or defrauding a person or damaging a computer punishable by up to two years in prison.
Commenting on yesterday’s vote, Steven K. Berry, DMA’s executive vice president for government and consumer affairs said “we are very glad that the I-SPY bill put the appropriate focus on identifying and punishing bad actors, rather than by placing restrictions on the use of technologies that are driving legitimate online commerce.”
DMA is particularly pleased that the measure also provides for $10 million to be appropriated for each of fiscal years 2008 through 2011, to help the Justice department seek prosecutions for individuals and companies that use spyware or malware, or that employ tactics such as phishing or pharming.
These legislative efforts will complement and strengthen DMA’s own voluntary efforts to combat the spread of programs that install deceptive, fraudulent, or harmful software on people’s computers without their knowledge.
DMA’s self-regulatory Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice, adherence to which is a mandatory component of DMA membership, specify that marketers must not install, have installed, or use, software or other similar technology on a computer or similar device that initiates deceptive practices or interferes with a user’s expectation of the functionality of the computer and its programs. Such practices could include software that takes control of a computer (e.g., relaying spam and viruses, modem hijacking, denial-of-service attacks, or endless-loop pop-up advertisements). Also prohibited would be programs that deceptively modify or disable security or browser settings or prevent the user’s efforts to disable or uninstall the software.
DMA’s guidelines also lay out what marketers should do when offering software or other similar technology that is installed on a computer for legitimate marketing purposes. Specifically, such programs must give the user clear and conspicuous notice and choice at the point of joining a service or before the software or other similar technology begins operating on the user’s computer, including notice of significant effects of having the software or other similar technology installed. Marketers must also give the user an easy means to uninstall the technology and/or disable all functionality. Finally, marketers should always provide an easily accessible link to privacy policies and contact information, as well as clear identification of the company making the offer.
More information about DMA’s Guidelines for Ethical Business Practices is available online at www.the-dma.org/guidelines.
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The Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org) is the leading global trade association of businesses and nonprofit organizations using and supporting multichannel direct marketing tools and techniques. DMA advocates industry standards for responsible marketing, promotes relevance as the key to reaching consumers with desirable offers, and provides cutting-edge research, education, and networking opportunities to improve results throughout the end-to-end direct marketing process. Founded in 1917, DMA today represents more than 3,600 companies from dozens of vertical industries in the US and 50 other nations, including a majority of the Fortune 100 companies, as well as nonprofit organizations.
In 2006, marketers — commercial and nonprofit — spent $166.5 billion on direct marketing in the United States. Measured against total US sales, these advertising expenditures generated $1.93 trillion in incremental sales. Last year, direct marketing accounted for 10.3 percent of total US GDP. Also, there are today 1.7 million direct marketing employees in the US alone. Their collective sales efforts directly support 8.8 million other jobs. That accounts for 10.5 million US jobs.
The Power of Direct: Relevance. Responsibility. Results.