"Aravosis' Law" Passes House UNANIMOUSLY

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    Bob Fertik
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It's the fashion these days to name laws after the person whose story resulted in the enactment of the law: hence Megan's LawJessica's Law, etc.

So I hereby christen H.R. 4709, an act "providing criminal penalties for the fraudulent acquisition or unauthorized disclosure of phone records," as Aravosis' Law. (John's Law is unfortunately taken.)

John Aravosis of AmericaBlog.com (seen here turning heads last month with his date political soulmate evil twin sister makeup consultant nemesis Katherine Harris) launched his crusade on January 7 - just four months ago! On January 12, Aravosis chose Wesley Clark as his symbolic victim and made his story headline news.

Yesterday Aravosis' Law passed the House unanimously by 409-0. As Daniel Glover reports,

The House yesterday passed a bill designed to protect the privacy of telephone numbers -- legislation that was introduced early this year after publicity generated in part by a blogger.

The measure, H.R. 4709, would make it illegal for online brokers to buy and sell individuals' monthly phone records. It would empower both the FCC and FTC to enforce new rules banning "pretexting," the practice of obtaining customers' personal information under false pretenses.

The House passed the legislation on a 409-0 vote. Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said on the floor that the bill "provides consumers with important new protections for the confidentiality of their calling records without compromising the legitimate lawful interests of law enforcement, emergency services and cellular telephone service providers" who might need access to the records.

As reported in my Feb. 14 column, the push to protect phone records had languished until early this year. After John Aravosis of Americablog read an article about the issue, he decided to make cell-phone privacy a pet cause.

Aravosis first bought his own records to prove a point, then he bought the records of someone who mattered: 2004 Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark. That ploy generated lots of publicity and jumpstarted the issue in Congress.

Three House bills and two Senate measures were introduced within days. House Judiciary approved H.R. 4709 by voice vote on March 2, and Senate Judiciary approved a similar measure, S. 2178, by voice vote the same day.

No doubt the Senate will enact Aravosis' Law soon. So here's the $64,000 question: will George W. Bush invite proudly gay Aravosis to the signing ceremony, and make JerryPatJames FalwellRobertsonDobson's head explode? And if he does, what will John wear?

Update 1: For those who like to keep track of internet "firsts," I believe this is the first federal law enacted as the direct result of internet activism. Let's score this one for the blue team!

Update 2: Aravosis is too modest to brag. C'mon John, don't be shy!