Visiting pal Hemp Ed in Pe Ell, Washington, Uncle Weed gets up to date on the emerging and ambiguous regulatory framework for production, distribution and retailing of cannabis in the aftermath of Washington Initiative 502.
Plus conversation on the state of industrial hemp, small scale growing operations, the impact of state-imported weed, and the role of the Liquor Control Board as arbiter – while smoking a joint in his medical experiment facility next to a cedar sauna.
Internet Users Better Protected With Two New Bills – Zhonka Press Release – May 20, 2005
House Bill 1888 signing ceremony – L to R: Dave Olson, Zhonka Broadband; Governor Christine Gregiore; Jacob Stewart, Washington Association of ISPs; Hunter Goodman, Assistant Attorney General
Photo purchased from House of Representatives
Many misleading e-mails and malicious attachments are now illegal after Governor Christine Gregoire signed two House bills designed to eliminate “Spyware” and “Phishing.”
New guidelines for distributing and installing software in hopes of decreasing Spyware are specified in HB1021, signed into law on May 17th. Often delivered as e-mail attachments or installed along with free software, these malicious software programs are secretly installed on unprotected computers. Once installed, Spyware inundates the victim’s computer with pornographic pop-up ads and windows with bogus security warnings, without any means to remove or de-activate the ads.
In other scenarios, “Malware” programs perform more nefarious activities such as installing a “Trojan” program, by which the intruder gains control of the infected computer. The compromised computer is then used as a “zombie” to deliver infected e-mail or propagating the Spyware through Trojan and Worms. Alternatively, the infected computers may host Phishing sites or even participate in denial of service attacks against other websites.
HB1888, signed May 5th, prohibits sending e-mail soliciting personal information using fraudulent means such as misrepresentation. In a practice commonly called Phishing, a fraudster sends massive quantities of e-mail purporting to be from major bank, well-known websites, or credit card providers seeking account “clarifications” or “updates.” Unsuspecting users who respond to the invalid inquiries are taken to spoofed websites that may look identical to legitimate sites. Once they reveal sensitive information, they easily fall victim to identity theft and credit card fraud, often without knowledge how they’ve been duped.
With the two laws, the Attorney General’s office will have a new tool to combat this sophisticated fraud. Hunter Goodman, Assistant Attorney General and Director of Legislative Affairs points out, “Spyware and phishing are two of the most destructive tactics used by thieves to obtain private personal information from citizens online, and these two new laws will be a tremendous help in our efforts to protect the public from online fraud.”
This cycle of junk-mail and computer compromise is a burden on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who process the excess junk e-mail and experience increased customer support. Dave Olson, of Olympia’s Zhonka Broadband, points out, “In some cases, we need to contact customers who are unwittingly sending out junk mail from an infected computer – they are usually surprised and then frustrated about the clean up work.” Olson also says that Zhonka encourages a proactive approach to computer protection and maintains a list of prevention resources on the company’s website.
Washington Association of Internet Service Providers’ Jacob Stewart applauds the law saying, “This is a great step in providing relief for Internet users beleaguered by junk mail and mal-ware.” But Stewart also offers a practical word of caution, “Due to the de-centralized nature of the Internet, the Washington State law may face enforcement and jurisdiction issues hence users need to continue to use vigilance in protecting their networks.”
House Bill 1012 signing ceremony – L to R: Dave Olson, Zhonka Broadband; Jacob Stewart, Washington Association of ISPs, Governor Christine Gregiore; Kevin Miller, Zhonka Broadband Intern, Unidentified, Hunter Goodman, Assistant Attorney General -Photo purchased from House of Representatives
NEW BILL KEEPS THE INTERNET TAX-FREE PRESS RELEASE – April 28, 2004
Washington Association of Internet Service Providers
Ron Main of Cable Communications Assoc., Dave Olson of Zhonka Broadband, and Jacob Stewart & Gary Gardner of WAISP join Gov. Locke for SB 6259 bill signing on March 26 2004.
OLYMPIA – During the recent Legislative session, local Internet businesses and industry groups supported a bill to keep Internet services tax-free, in Washington at least. SB 6259 extends the moratorium on cities and towns imposing new taxes on Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Jacob Stewart, Vice-President of the Washington Association of Internet Service Providers (WAISP) suggests, “This tax moratorium extension is important to encourage the use of new Internet technologies by not encumbering users with confusing and redundant taxes.”
Gary Gardner, Executive Director of WAISP, hopes for a fair chance for ISPs who continue to pay the Business and Occupancy (B&O) taxes assessed to general service businesses. “We don’t feel ISPs should pay a separate rate of B&O tax than other businesses, and we continue to oppose any sort of tax on either ISPs or their customers simply for the privilege of accessing the Internet.”
Dave Olson, of Zhonka Broadband, an Olympia-based ISP, sees some comfort from the extension. “This bill enables ISPs to confidently expand broadband service to under-served markets across the digital divide, resulting in increased marketplace choice in areas like Grays Harbor and the Olympic Peninsula.”
A similar Federal bill (HB 49) passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last year. However the companion Senate bill (SB 150) failed, opening the door for municipalities to levy additional taxes on ISPs and their customers.
As the U.S. Senate again debates the Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act, President Bush offered his encouragement, saying, “If you want broadband access throughout the society, Congress must ban taxes on access.”