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The days of “self regulation” of online conduct appear to be coming to an end. In addition to laws that have been enacted within the past few years, such as the Children’s Online Protection Act and the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, hundreds of bills designed to address Internet and technology issues were introduced in Congress in 2001. Although most of these bills are still pending, Congress is showing an increasingly greater interest in taking a hands-on approach to the Internet. In the process, Congress appears to have moved from the “freedom” paradigm to the “control” paradigm when it comes to how the Internet should best evolve. WIDE RANGE OF PROPOSED LEGISLATION Bills introduced in Congress to regulate the Internet cover a wide range of issues, including privacy, “spam,” Cybercrime and security, Internet taxation, protection for children online, music licensing and Internet gambling. SPECIFIC BILLS As examples of specific contemplated high-technology laws, the following bills have been proposed in the 107th Congress: – H.R. 237, Consumer Internet Privacy Enhancement Act: this law would provide consumers with the opportunity to opt out of information sharing practices by online companies. – H.R. 556, Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act, and H.R. 3215 Combating Illegal Gambling Reform and Modernization Act: these laws would prohibit the use of particular banking instruments for online gambling. – S. 512 and H.R. 1410, Internet Tax Moratorium and Equity Act: this law would authorize a multi-state organization to collect sales taxes on electronic transactions. – H.R. 718, Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act of 2001: this law would regulate unsolicited commercial email. – S. 792 and H.R. 2246, Media Marketing Accountability Act of 2001: this law would create federal standards on electronic marketing and advertising. – H.R. 2724, Music Online Competition Act: this law would attempt to expand the licensing of online music by requiring that similar terms be available to all licensees. – S. 88 and H.R. 267, Broadband Internet Access Act: this law would create a tax credit structure to facilitate broadband diffusion especially in less populated areas. “WILD WILD WEST” COMING TO AN END There can be little question that lawmakers now seek to chorale the “Wild Wild West” nature of the Internet. Although it previously seemed that Congress wanted the Internet to grow and blossom without regulatory interference, problems emerged in terms of privacy invasion, security breaches, Cybercrime, spam, and more. Still, will the Internet flourish if the beast is tamed too much? We will have to wait, watch and see which bills Congress passes and how those laws truly impact the dynamism of the Internet. Eric J. Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris, where he focuses on technology and litigation matters. His Web site is sinrodlaw.com and his firm’s site is Duane Morris.Mr. Sinrod may be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

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