By Robert Schlesinger |
For a century, the Better Business Bureau and our famous torch logo have helped consumers avoid fraud and scams by identifying businesses, brands, and charities they can trust. We take online fraud and deception seriously, and we are in favor of legislation, international agreements, and the internal policies of the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that help curb this rampant Internet fraud and criminal activity.
That is why we support the overall goals of the Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA (H.R. 3261) and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act or PROTECT IP (S. 968). Unchecked piracy, counterfeiting, and trademark infringement on the Internet undermine legitimate businesses and impact law-abiding consumers in three critical ways:
Economics: Movies, music, software, video games, and other creative content are pirated constantly. The U.S. economy loses $58 billion annually, along with 400,000 jobs, $16 billion in shareholder losses, and $3 billion in lost taxes.
Safety: Rogue websites steal trademarks like BBB's torch logo to deceive consumers into believing they are legitimate sites while selling shoddy fakes that can, in many cases, endanger consumers' health and safety. Counterfeit medicines, batteries, smoke alarms, and brake pads are just a few of the many examples.
Security: Consumers who think they are ordering from legitimate sites end up sharing sensitive personal and financial information, thereby increasing their risk of victimization through phishing scams, identity theft, or computer viruses.
While we recognize there are controversies surrounding this legislation, these bipartisan bills are bringing attention to legitimate intellectual property concerns that can no longer be ignored. The vast majority of rogue websites operate outside the United States … and out of reach of American law enforcement. Congress, ICANN, and other stakeholders need to come up with a workable solution.
BBB proudly stands with hundreds of businesses, trade associations, professional labor organizations, state attorneys general and district attorneys, all of whom are concerned about the serious problem of foreign rogue websites that profit through copyright infringement and the sale of counterfeit products. The passage of these bills will ensure a safer online environment for U.S. businesses to operate in and will help protect consumers from fraud, identity theft, and unsafe counterfeit products.
About Stephen Cox President and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus
Andrew McDiarmid Policy Analyst at the Center of Democracy and Technology
Corynne McSherry Intellectual Property Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Sandra Aistars Executive Director of the Copyright Alliance