Congress Passes Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act

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In December 2004, President Bush signed into law the Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act as part of the Intellectual Property Protection in Courts Administration Act. This legislation provides stiff penalties for providing false domain name registration information. Specifically, it amends the Lanham and Copyright acts to provide that a trademark or copyright infringement violation will be considered "willful" if the violator knowingly provided misleading or false contact information in making, maintaining, or renewing registration of an Internet domain name. In addition, it adds a new criminal provision, 18 USCA Sect 3559 (2000 & Supp 2004), that requires judges to double, or boost by seven years, the sentence for a felony offense that involved the use of a falsely registered Internet domain name.

False domain name information is very common. Virtually every online scam artist and most spam senders provide false registration information. If enforced, the new law will significantly curtail this practice. At a minimum, doing something online of questionable legality while maintaining false domain name contact information, will become much more hazardous.

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