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Fed up with rampant fraud and deceit on the Internet, Congressional Representatives Howard Coble, R-N.C., and Howard Berman, D-Calif., have submitted a draft bill for consideration in the House of Representatives that would “provide criminal penalties for providing false information in registering a domain name on the Internet.” Internet charlatans frequently use incorrect identifying information, such as false names and contact numbers, when registering Internet addresses. This frustrates law enforcement authorities, as they have trouble tracing perpetrators when the “WHOIS” databases of Internet registrars are unreliable. The draft bill is designed to grapple with that problem. THE DRAFT BILL Section 1 of the draft bill comes out swinging with its title: “Criminal Penalties for False Information in Registration of Domain Names.” It then proposes amending Chapter 47 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code by adding a new � 1037 entitled “Fraudulent Information in Registering Domain Name.” Draft � 1037 makes it a crime to “knowingly and with intent to defraud provide material and misleading false contact information to a domain name registrar, domain name registry, or other domain name registration authority in registering a domain name.” The kicker comes when the “Offense” description states at the end that whoever commits such an offense “shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.” No question, the potential of five years prison time plus a fine is serious penalty and hopefully should provide needed deterrence. THE ULTIMATE OUTCOME The draft bill is sweet in its simplicity. Moreover, it is not loaded down with other controversial items. Thus, it should get some attention in Congress. It does not hurt that Representatives Coble and Berman are the Chairman and ranking democrat on the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property. 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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