More legislation to fight online fraud is good, right? Wrong.

The House of Representatives approved a bill that would jail felons even longer, if they used fraudulent information when registering a domainname used in committing the felony. Wow, that’s great.

When you register a domain name, there’s two pieces of information you give to the registrar. The billing information for payment, and the contact information displayed publicly in your domain’s whois records. The bill would make it a felony to falsify the publicly displayed whois records information.

There’s a whole bunch of things wrong with this.

If you falsify the payment information, that’s already a crime. The registration is usually paid with a credit card, and if you falsify that information you commit credit card fraud. If you use a stolen credit card, you get a few additional felonies tacked on top of credit card fraud charges. You could therefore charge the criminals on existing laws already making this new bill redundant.

The bill is worded in such a manner that falsifying the publicly displayed whois record information is not a crime, unless you use the domain as part of committing a felony. Considering that copyright violations these days appear to be felonies, under certain circumstances, by having an outdated address, your parents’ address or by some other means having your whois record information false, you’ve just tacked a few years on top of your copyright violation felony. The Church of Scientology, RIAA and MPAA have been very aggressive in pursuing copyright violators online. Heaven forbid any of them operate a website with fraudulent whois records.

The penalty for this horrible crime is up to 7 years in jail. Gee whiz, I’d be better off selling crack.


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