Senate Commerce Committee Approves U.S. SAFE WEB Act

December 15, 2005

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation today reported S. 1608, the “Undertaking Spam, Spyware, And Fraud Enforcement With Enforcers Beyond Borders Act of 2005” (U.S. SAFE WEB Act of 2005) by unanimous consent. Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) introduced the bill, which is co-sponsored by Co-Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), and Committee Members Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

The global nature of the Internet and electronic commerce has resulted in substantial cross-border fraud and deceptive practices that have plagued consumers and businesses in the U.S. and abroad. S. 1608 amends the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA) to improve the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s ability to provide more timely and effective international consumer protection. U.S. SAFE WEB Act provisions will bolster FTC efforts to protect consumers, specifically to combat spam, spyware, and Internet fraud and deception.

Provisions of the legislation would:

· prevent notifying subjects of investigations if they may be likely to destroy evidence or move assets offshore;

· protect entities from liability for voluntary disclosures to the FTC relating to suspected fraud and deception, increasing the likelihood of such disclosures from third parties;

· help the FTC track proceeds of fraud and deception sent through U.S. banks to foreign jurisdictions so they can be returned to victims;

· avoid challenges to FTC jurisdiction issues and encourage the full range of remedies for U.S. consumer victims in foreign courts;

· permit the FTC to work with the Department of Justice to increase the resources relating to FTC-related foreign litigation, such as freezing foreign assets and enforcing U.S. court judgments abroad; and

· authorize the FTC to share information with criminal authorities, which will improve information sharing with foreign agencies that treat consumer fraud and deception as a criminal law enforcement issue.

The bill now proceeds to the full Senate for its consideration.