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President Bush Signs Anti-Spam Law
FTC To Develp Plan For "Do-Not-Spam" list


December 17, 2003
Wednesday - 1:30 am

Tuesday President Bush signed into law the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM Act), which establishes a framework of administrative, civil, and criminal tools to help America's consumers, businesses, and families combat unsolicited commercial e-mail, known as spam.

The new law is a pro-consumer measure that allows consumers to choose to stop further unsolicited spam from a sender. It also provides a protection against spam containing unmarked sexually-oriented or pornographic material.

U.S. Senators Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Tuesday applauded the signing into law of their legislation, the "CAN-SPAM Act of 2003," to help Americans combat the growing problem of unsolicited e-mail or "spam." The law includes tough civil and criminal penalties against the senders of unlawful marketing e-mail, requires special warnings for pornographic messages, and addresses the feasibility of a "do not spam" list. The Burns-Wyden legislation is the first national anti-spam law.

"Today's signing of the CAN-SPAM Act is the culmination of over four years of work on this legislation," said Burns. "Senator Wyden and I have worked during this time to come up with common-sense legislation to deal with spam and I think we've been successful. In a country with an ever increasing reliance on the Internet, I am glad to know that today marks a day where Americans will begin to have some muscle against the spammers out there who flood their inboxes each day. I am pleased to see this bipartisan legislation receive the support and signature of the President today, and I look forward to the strength it will give to all Americans who are plagued with an inundation of spam everyday."

"Kingpin spammers will now face tough rules and harsh consequences for sending unwanted, offensive e-mails to unwilling recipients," said Wyden. "Swift and aggressive enforcement will be essential, and Senator Burns and I will continue to push the Federal Trade Commission and others to use the tools this law gives them to fight against spam."

To encourage quick and strong enforcement of the new CAN SPAM law, Burns and Wyden wrote Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Timothy Muris last week requesting that the agency move promptly to prepare enforcement cases against high-volume "kingpin" spammers, so that when the law comes into effect on January 1, 2004, the FTC will be in a position to take high-profile enforcement actions without delay. The Senators urged the FTC to "put established spammers on notice that the game has changed, and to discourage new ones from entering the sleazy business."

Worldwide, more than 13 billion spam e-mail messages are sent each day, comprising about half of all e-mail traffic. Spam costs an estimated $10 billion per year due to expenses for anti-spam equipment, manpower and lost productivity. The CAN SPAM Act specifically targets deceptive messages sent by large-volume spammers, who often hide their identities, use misleading subject lines, and refuse to honor opt-out requests from spam recipients.

The final CAN SPAM Act includes damages of up to $250 per spam e-mail with a cap of $2 million that can be tripled for aggravated violations. There is no cap on damages for e-mails using false or deceptive headers, the cap does not apply. Additionally, the final bill enhances FTC enforcement authority.

The bill requires senders of commercial e-mail to include an enforceable opt-out mechanism, prohibits false and deceptive headers and subject lines, increases monetary damages imposed on spammers who engage in particularly nefarious spamming techniques, and includes strong, multi-pronged enforcement by the FTC, state attorneys general, and Internet service providers (ISPs) with the potential for multi-million dollar judgments. Additional criminal provisions in the bill create several tiers of penalties, ranging up to 5 years in prison, for several common spamming practices.

This legislation also requires the FTC to report to Congress with a plan to implement a "do-not-spam" list, similar to the "do-not-call" list for which millions of Americans have already registered. The FTC report to Congress will include any potential drawbacks or difficulties with the implementation of such a list. The legislation also gives the FTC the authority to proceed with implementation without further congressional action.




Source of News Release:

Office of the President - Web Site
Office of U.S. Senator Conrad Burns - Web Site

Office of U.S. Senator Ron Wyden - Web Site


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