Tuesday, April 17, 2007

House to Vote on Bill to Ban Web Site Names That Resemble Those of U.S. Agencies

David Cay Johnston writes in The New York Times:

Daniel M. O’Donnell, president of the San Francisco company that owns the Web site irs.com, is to ring the bell that begins trading on the American Stock Exchange this morning. Hours later, in Washington, the House is scheduled to vote on legislation that clarifies the law barring for-profit companies from using names that sound like official government agencies.

Twice in the last three weeks, the Internal Revenue Service commissioner, Mark W. Everson, has warned about confusion over the official Web site of his agency and commercial firms playing off that confusion.

A Web industry trade group, the Computer and Communications Industry Association, issued a statement last week warning consumers that Web sites like irs.com, irs.org and irs.net “make money by offering services that, in many cases, taxpayers could get for free through the I.R.S.’s official Web site, irs.gov.”

Intersearch.com, the firm that owns the irs.com Web site, says that it is fully complying with the law and that it sees no reason to inform shareholders of the pending legislation, said Jennifer Faye Drimmer, its legal counsel.

More here.


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