The Ides of March have come and gone, and apparently considering themselves safe, Senators have finally (and formally) organized the Senate Judiciary Committee. As we previously reported, Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) will chair a newly created Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee, which gives IP issues their own forum in an otherwise busy committee. Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn has perhaps the most apt quote, “If you thought Hatch was going to ride off into the sunset and not participate in this issue, you’re not in touch with reality.”
The Washington Post has a full story on yesterday’s organization hearing, which includes some not very surprising comments from Chairman Hatch about dealing with P2P issues. He also said the patent reform will be a priority, which isn’t really a surprise, but will probably prove difficult given the history of the issue.
One interesting quote from The Washington Post story was from Senator Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) spokesperson:
“In addition to piracy and copyright infringement, Leahy hopes to work through the committee to address the new threats of “phishing” and “pharming” — forms of electronic fraud in which perpetrators impersonate trusted banks, retailers and financial institutions to steal Internet users’ personal data, spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said.”
While phishing is pretty well known on the Hill, pharming is not. It is a bit surprising to see this come up during an organization meeting, although Senator Leahy just introduced the Anti-phishing Act of 2005 (S. 472). The bill establishes stronger criminal penalities for people caught phishing and is written broadly enough to probably catch pharming. Of course you have to actually catch these people and a recent Wall Street Journal article (subscription required) points out the obvious problem with the legislation:
“The biggest challenge for the proposed legislation is that many of the offenders reside overseas, and they use byzantine crime networks to keep their own identities concealed. What’s more, the average phishing site exists for less than six days, estimates the Antiphishing Working Group, an industry trade organization that supports Sen. Leahy’s bill. “It is difficult, if not impossible,” to find the offenders and prosecute them, said Gary Steele, chief executive of Proofpoint Inc., an e-mail security provider. He said the main strength of Sen. Leahy’s bill would be to make the public more aware of phishing threats.”
USACM member Ed Fleten recently posted his take on pharming and pointed out some technology-based solutions to the problem.