News Release from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121
February 28, 2007

Senator Zaffirini Files Bill to Protect Texans from "Botnets," Cybercrimes

AUSTIN -- Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, filed legislation on Wednesday (Feb. 28) to combat the use of "botnets" -- networks of compromised computers used to perpetrate cybercrime. Senate Bill 1009 by Zaffirini will prohibit the creation of botnets and penalize convicted violators with significant fines.

"The rapid growth of e-commerce has led to the proliferation of online advertisements and devices that allow criminals to install dangerous software that victimizes Texas consumers," Senator Zaffirini said. "As legislators we have the responsibility to protect consumers and internet users from cybercrimes. This bill will not only protect online users in Texas from botnets, but also will enhance the security of personal and private information stored on computers."

SB 1009 will define clearly the term "bot" as a software program that operates as an agent for a user, another computer program or simulates human activity, and "botnet" as a collection of computers that become compromised without the knowledge of the owner or operators. Compromised computers either run under a command and control infrastructure or are used to forward transmissions, including unsolicited e-mails and viruses, to other computers with online access. What's more, the bill will authorize civil penalties for using botnets, including a cause of action for victims, and authorize the attorney general to seek injunctive relief and recovery of damages of $100,000 per violation.

Similar to SB 6 filed last week, SB 1009 builds on Senator Zaffirini's legislation that protects families from online crimes. In 2005 she authored and passed SB 327, the Consumer Protection Against Spyware Act, which made it unlawful for a person or entity to knowingly install spyware. The protections created by SB 327 produced a multimillion dollar settlement with Sony BMG Music, which installed harmful and problematic "spyware" on more than 100 compact discs sold to Texas consumers.

In 2005 Senator Zaffirini also sponsored and passed HB 1098 by Rep. Brian McCall, R-Plano, which prohibited internet "phishing" or fraudulent websites and e-mails sent to induce victims to divulge personal financial information.

"Botnets allow cybercriminals to perpetrate a number of unauthorized actions, including sending unsolicited e-mails, attacking vulnerable computer systems and networks, committing click fraud, and hijacking personal information leading to identity theft," Senator Zaffirini said. "Cybercriminals must be punished swiftly and decisively for their crimes, and consumers must remain confident that online transactions will be kept secure. I look forward to passing this bill and will continue to champion consumer rights and protections for all Texans."

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