In the war on identity theft, two new bills were recently approved by the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee, but despite Congress's overwhelming support, some industry insiders still have reservations, reports CNET News.
The proposals would create new regulations on spyware and set greater limits on the use of Social Security numbers.
Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the committee's chairman, said both bills "strike a blow" in a fair and balanced way against what he called the "scourge" of identity theft.
The controversial Spy Act makes taking control of a user's computer to collect information a crime. For example, it would be unlawful to modify a user's Internet settings, such as the browser's home page. The bill also includes a ban on collecting information about users without their explicit consent.
The passage of the Spy Act, marketers say, threatens the ability of marketing firms to collect data from cookies and other means to target ads to their users.
The bill does have an exemption for cookies but, the industry says, non-cookie technologies down the pipe could be threatened by the bill.
... "We're not going to be able to predict and carve out all these new technologies that don't make sense to regulate," said Mike Zaneis, vice president of public policy with the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
The Social Security number bill would bar the sale or purchase of Social Security numbers and allow state attorneys general to sue for civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation.
There are, however, many exceptions to the ban including: law enforcement, national security, public health, emergency situations and research "for the purpose of advancing public knowledge." Included in the proposal is a prohibition on showing Social Security numbers on any Web site and it would be illegal to use Social Security numbers be used to log into accounts.
Critics of the bill such as Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, say that the bill leaves "too many exceptions" on the numbers' sale and purchase.