Cyber Security Industry Alliance Newsletter •  Volume 3, Number 1  • September 2006

CSIA Congressional Spotlight

Senator Conrad Burns(R-MT)


Born: Gallatin, Missouri, January 25, 1935

Elected: 1988 (began 3rd term in January 2001)

Committee Assignments: Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittees on Agriculture & Rural Development; Defense; Energy & Water; Interior (Chairman); Military Construction & Veterans Affairs; Transportation, Treasury, the Judiciary & HUD. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, Subcommittees on Aviation (Chairman); Consumer Affairs, Product Safety & Insurance; Science & Space; Surface Transportation & Merchant Marine; Technology, Innovation & Competitiveness; Trade, Tourism & Economic Development. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy; Public Lands & Forests (Vice Chairman). Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. Senate Committee on Special Aging.

Education: Attended University of Missouri (agriculture), 1954

Career: Radio station owner and media broadcaster; auctioneer; agricultural magazine sales representative; airline ground operations employee

Notable:  In 1997, Senator Burns became Chairman of the Communications Subcommittee, one of the major regulatory posts in Congress. Since then he has been praised as "one of the fathers of the modern Internet," standing for deregulation, the roll-out of broadband in rural areas, and pushing for new Internet and mobile phone technologies.

He authored section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act and in 1999 unveiled the "Digital Dozen" proposal of telecom legislation. During the 107th Congress, Senator Burns pushed his "Tech 7" agenda, which aimed to bring greater security to the Internet, and during the 108th Congress, Senator Burns unveiled his "NexGenTen" Tech Agenda. At the start of the 109th Congress, Senator Burns took helm as Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee and rolled out his "e-Eleven," Tech Agenda, eleven top priority items to strengthen security and usher reform for 21st century communication.

Burns was born on a farm near Gallatin, Missouri, was graduated from Gallatin High School in 1952, and enrolled in the College of Agriculture at the University of Missouri. Senator Burns enlisted in the United States Marine Corps two years later, serving through 1957. During his term of service, Senator Burns was posted throughout East Asia. Following his military service Burns began working for TWA and Ozark airlines until 1962, when he became a field representative for Polled Hereford World magazine in Billings, Montana. Named the first manager of the Northern International Livestock Expo in 1968, Burns began his career in radio and television broadcasting, reporting on agricultural market news and establishing his reputation as the voice of Montana agriculture.

In 1975, Burns founded four radio stations known as the Northern Ag Network, which grew to serve 31 radio and TV stations across Montana and Wyoming when he sold it in 1986. Burns began his career in politics when he was elected to the Yellowstone County Commission, serving for two years before deciding to run for the U.S. Senate.

Conrad Burns became only the second Republican Senator in Montana's history, defeating incumbent John Melcher in 1988. Now in his third-term, Senator Burns is the longest-serving Republican Senator in Montana history.


Fighting a Global Threat on Individual Internet Use

Rapid advancement in internet development has enhanced how we connect with family and friends, improved how business is conducted, and provided greater access to information. However such accessibility and innovation have also created new challenges by increasing threats such as those caused by vulnerabilities and exploitation by bad actors. Consumers and businesses find themselves vulnerable to an endless plague of scams and threats.

"Clearly, the quick growth
of the Internet has surpassed
legislative correction


Threats to our security have risen exponentially as consumers have turned to the Internet as a tool for both communication and commerce. In the United States, approximately 205 million people use the Internet, along with 26 million small businesses. Yet, this robust growth in usage has also led to the breach of over 90 million records containing consumers’ personal information since February 2005. These breaches in security are not just confined to family computers, but also numerous business and government offices. These breaches resulted in monetary losses of over $680 million, equating to a median loss of $350 in 2005 alone. Clearly, the quick growth of the Internet has surpassed legislative correction.


The 2003 CAN-SPAM Act
(Controlling the Assault of
Non-Solicited Pornography
and Marketing Act)

act aimed to curtail spam scams
by requiring return addresses and
prohibiting deceptive subject lines

Given these disconcerting statistics and our dependence on the Internet, how can consumers protect themselves? To begin with, I am pleased to support the National Cyber Security Alliance’s (NCSA) resolution proclaiming October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Seeking to raise the awareness of cyber security practices and technologies to home users, small businesses, and the academic community, the NCSA is committed to using the month of October to improve the state of computer security for our nation as a whole. I commend them for their efforts in raising consumer knowledge.

In addition to the efforts of the NCSA, I am pleased to have aided in the protection of internet consumers. To combat scams associated with e-mail messaging, I sponsored the 2003 CAN-SPAM act aimed at curtailing the amount of spam consumers receive. Highlights of this act included requirements against false or misleading transmission information, a prohibition against deceptive subject headings and a mandatory inclusion of a return address or other contact information in commercial e-mail. I am pleased to see that progress is being made on the enforcement side of this issue.

My recently proposed SPY-BLOCK Act
protects consumers from software that
installs itself without the user's
knowledge or consent
and makes software that
secretly collects information illegal.


Recently, I have proposed a bill aimed at protecting consumers from being victimized by scams resulting from the deceptive installation of software without user consent. Senate Bill 687, known as the Software Principles Yielding Better Levels of Consumer Knowledge Act (SPY-BLOCK Act) seeks to protect consumers by making it unlawful to cause the installation of software by concealing the installation from the user, or to conduct such installation without their consent, as well as causing the installation of software for the purpose of secretly collecting information. I look forward to moving this bill forward to protect consumers and businesses alike.

In this global environment, consumer protection from deceptive Internet practices is paramount for the continued growth of the Internet. Likewise, consumer education from organizations such as NCSA will help equip end-users with the resources and knowledge to protect themselves online. I am pleased to have been part of the ongoing efforts to provide consumers with the tools and laws necessary for the safe and protected use of the Internet.