Senator Rockefeller Introduces Legislation Banning Certain Internet Sales Practices

On May 19, 2010, Senator Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), head of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced draft legislation that would ban certain internet sales tactics and restrict others. The legislative effort comes after a hearing investigation where Senator Rockefeller and other members of the committee determined that certain internet industry practices were unfair and deceptive. The legislation is cited as the "Restore Online Shoppers' Confidence Act."

Foremost among those activities deemed unfair and deceptive was Data Pass. The draft legislation defines "Data Pass" as the practice of an online retailer or website sharing their customers' billing information, including credit card and debit numbers, with third party sellers in exchange for "bounties" and other payments. The legislation would prohibit companies from enrolling consumers in paid-subscription programs unless the consumers entered their credit card numbers and agreed to the program. The measure would also restrict online companies' ability to use "negative options" which often involve offering people free trials and then charging them unless they cancel their accounts within a short time frame.

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