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Congress Sends Anti-Spam Bill To White House 287

Posted by timothy
from the hope-springs-eternal-like-a-slinkie dept.
sunbird writes "At just after 5 o'clock EST, the House concurred to the Senate's amendments to the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (or "CAN-SPAM") (bill in PDF format: here or here). Although the bill will prohibit certain tactics (such as hiding return addresses), critics state that the bill does not go far enough (see this press release). The bill will provide criminal penalties for violations of its provisions (up to five years behind bars), but will not allow private parties to sue spammers. News reports indicate (SF Gate or Forbes) that Bush intends to sign the bill. Prior Slashdot articles are here: 1 2 3."
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Congress Sends Anti-Spam Bill To White House

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  • This legalizes spam (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:08PM (#7664610) Homepage
    We covered this. Spam becomes legal 120 days after this is signed, even in states where it wasn't legal before.
    • by Vainglorious Coward (267452) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:10PM (#7664630) Journal
      That's why it's called the "CAN-SPAM" act. No trickery with naming there, nosir.
    • by DickBreath (207180) on Monday December 08, 2003 @09:23PM (#7665125) Homepage
      Of course this legalizes spam.

      Why do you think they call it the CAN-spam bill?

      Why didn't they call it the
      1. Anti-spam bill?
      2. Stop-spam bill?
      3. Castrate all spammers bill?
    • BZZZT! WRONG! (Score:4, Informative)

      by jhylkema (545853) on Monday December 08, 2003 @09:38PM (#7665205)

      How in the hell did this get modded informative?

      Had you read the bill (which is more than most congresscritters do, but I digress) you would have seen that:

      This Act supersedes any statute, regulation, or rule of a State or political subdivision of a State that expressly regulates the use of electronic mail to send commercial messages,
      except to the extent that any such statute, regulation, or rule prohibits falsity or deception in any portion of a commercial electronic mail message or information attached thereto.

      In other words, laws like Washington's [wa.gov] are affected not in the slightest.

      Wake up, /.'ers, the sky isn't falling. True, it isn't the greatest (or even a terribly "good" antispam bill,) but politics is the art of the possible. Nowhere is it more true than in politics that the perfect is the enemy of the good. We'll get a good law eventually.

      • Re:BZZZT! WRONG! (Score:2, Informative)

        by Joe Wagner (547696)
        I believe you are not correct in projecting the effects of this bill. The primary reason that spammers had in falsifying information in their headers was that many states had prohibitions on spam. WA (and MD, etc) put laws on their books prohibiting emails with such falsehoods which nicely side-stepped the problem of being content related. When the WA Supreme Court upheld the WA law, they said "Hey, we're only banning fraudulent emails so that can't possibly interfere with Interstate commerce, it can onl
        • Re:BZZZT! WRONG! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jhylkema (545853) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:29AM (#7666488)

          Quoth the poster:

          So now they will send spam to you with a subject line of "Hi" about Mini RC Cars and Viagra and you can't do a thing about it under Federal or WA law.

          Why not? Washington law specifically forbids "false or misleading information in the subject line." The Federal law specifically does not pre-empt any law dealing with falsity. The primary reason that spammers had in falsifying information in their headers was that many states had prohibitions on spam. WA (and MD, etc) put laws on their books prohibiting emails with such falsehoods which nicely side-stepped the problem of being content related.

          And they still do. Friend, if you think the spammers are going to start putting their real IP addresses in the headers, you're smoking weed. If you think Washington's law has made a difference in this regard, you're on crack. No, I suspect that there will be plenty of grist for my mill for the foreseeable future.

          So, tell me again what the problem is?

    • by fermion (181285) on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:19PM (#7665436) Homepage Journal
      And as much as we wish to make anything we find uncomfortable illigal, that is not the purpose of the government, or laws in general. I this case, unlike the post-9/11 laws that made the US look like another reactionary dictatorhship, the congress tried to define acceptable marketing using measurable enforcable terms.

      The biggest problem with spam is the deception and confusion. This is also the biggest problem in all advertising, and something the US government tries hard to minimize. This bill speaks specifically two three issues on this. It requires that addresses be gathered overtly, and not harvested or guessed. It requires that the headers be true. It requires the content conform to current laws, and in particular requires adult content to be marked. This is similiar to existing laws. Such laws have been used to by the AG to punish direct mail and telemarketing firms.

      It is unrealistic to assume that the Congress will ban commercial email. We would like something like confirmed opt-in and the like, but that may come later. Look at it this way. The drive to make telemarketers behave themselves has been going on for a very long time. As it has become clear that they do not and will not respect the wishes of the public, more aggresive laws have been passed to make them behave, until the most recent laws threaten to destroy the industry. This was the right and proper sequence of events. I think we can realiable expect the spammers to show the same disrespect and greed, and therefore can expect increasingly strict laws.

      As far as the non-US mailer problems, that will can not really be solved by the congress.

      • by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @05:54AM (#7666930) Homepage
        The biggest problem with spam is the deception and confusion.

        Absolutely untrue.

        The biggest problem with spam is that it's theft of bandwidth, resources and time.

        Even at home I get ~10,000 spams a month. You don't want to *know* what the figures are at work. Suffice to say we just upgraded the disk on the exchange servers to cope with it (and will the spammers be paying for that? Will they heck).

        There is no 'acceptable' spam. If I didn't ask for it, I don't want it. I tolerate advertising on billboards and on TV because it (allegedly) keeps prices down and pays for other things. Spam has none of these benefits.
  • Another Law (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:09PM (#7664619)
    Despite popular opinion, a US law will only stop domestic spam, and the weaknesses of punishing the actual company hiring the spammer have been made clear before e.g. Hiring someone to spam your competitors product.
    Why not continue working on more effective spam traps and stop legislating morality.

    Vegetarians eat Vegetables, Humanitarians frighten me.
    • Re:Another Law (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Despite popular opinion, a US law will only stop domestic spam

      Or in this case, promote domestic spam.

    • IANAL but believe that when spam [si20.com] becomes illegal, it supersedes other laws which would give you 'reasonable doubt' in a case involving vigilantism against a spammer that results in harm or death.

      I say more people to the power!
    • Most spam from foreign IPs is actually a US spammer relaying through an open relay or open proxy. That would be illegal under this bill. If the spammer is US-based, he'll have to advertise some domestic product, and he'll have some target for enforcement. What this bill does legalize is the mainsleaze spammers like Topica, Flowgo, etc. They spam from their own IPs and don't disguise themselves with proxies. If this bill makes a dent in the open proxy and open relay spammers, we'll be better off on balance.
    • >Why not continue working on more effective spam traps and stop legislating morality.

      How is stopping SMTP abuse, bandwidth theft, and computer time theft "legislating morality?" Are we going to do away with theft laws too? Afterall Bob did forget to lock his door, thus that gives us the right to steal all his stuff, right Mr. Uber-Libertarian? "Legislating morality" is best used when describing victimless crimes like smoking pot.

      As flawed as this bill is, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwate
      • How is stopping SMTP abuse, bandwidth theft, and computer time theft "legislating morality?" Are we going to do away with theft laws too? Afterall Bob did forget to lock his door, thus that gives us the right to steal all his stuff, right Mr. Uber-Libertarian? "Legislating morality" is best used when describing victimless crimes like smoking pot.

        The FCC ownership restrictions (for a recent example) date back to the thirties. This fact was repeatedly trumpeted in the WSJ and elsewhere (e.g. in Slashdot pos
  • what to do (Score:3, Interesting)

    by senatorpjt (709879) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:10PM (#7664625)
    The ability for private parties to sue spammers when there is a documented attempt to stop it might help. Most people can't do it, but there are enough people who know what they're doing to be able to track the actual individuals down that it would seem to be helpful.
    • That'd certainly create a job market for a lot of IT people here in the States -- kind of like a private eye.
  • by EinarH (583836) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:11PM (#7664639) Journal
    We the Congress of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect spam heaven, establish Protection, insure domestic Annoyance, provide for the miserable defence, promote the general Chaos, and secure the Blessings of Financial Freedom to ourself and our Contributors, do ordain and establish this Anti-Spam Bill for the United States of America.
  • by wrinkledshirt (228541) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:13PM (#7664654) Homepage
    Phrase the bill in a way to let them think they're banning pornography! Genius!
  • by edrugtrader (442064) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:14PM (#7664667) Homepage
    supposedly the bill was placed on the president's desk a few hours ago, but he threw it out thinking it was garbage.
  • Spam Meets Junk Mail (Score:5, Informative)

    by the_mad_poster (640772) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:15PM (#7664670) Homepage Journal

    ... being written and passed solely through back-room compromises and with the input of the marketing industry and Internet Service Provider lobbies, but with scant regard for the interests of America's consumers and business Internet users.

    First of all, why doesn't THAT surprise me in the least? In other words, "legitimate" marketers, like them or not, get free fun of your inbox the way they do your mailbox. Except, of course, it costs next to nothing to spam people so it will be like them jamming 1000 unwanted credit card apps, catalogs, and other miscellaneous garbage into your mailbox everyday.

    Now, some of you might think that "legitimate" businesses won't try to abuse this. For you poor, naive fools, let me tell you that I work in a "legitimate" direct mail company and we junk mail the shit out of people. They ask us to stop? Ok - we stop selling their name and address and then we stop sending them stuff. Of course, if they do business with us again, the whole thing starts over. Yahoo!, in fact, appears to have already caught onto this idea within the realm of spam. Expect to see changes in "privacy policies" to be used more frequently as excuses to override requests not to spam.

    In short, expect your spam count to rise. It will just be a little more "honest", as the CAUCE release notes, not a better situation in general. Go Congress. I'm just sooooooo proud of my government at times like this.

    • by KalvinB (205500) on Monday December 08, 2003 @09:10PM (#7665023) Homepage
      tend to use proper english and other tells that crap spammers don't. I have no problem with spam that's sent that follows rules. It makes filters much more effective.

      I had a problem with spammers sending spam with popunders. I added in a rule to Mercury to delete any message that contained the line "script langage=javascript." BAM. No more of those. In fact, I'd really appreciate if all spammers would use Java-script in their messages.

      Don't like Yahoo spamming you? Guess what? They follow rules and guidlines for their messages. All you have to do is figure out what tells their messages have and configure your mail server to block any messages that match those tells.

      No, this isn't going to fix the whole spam problem but at least it's making it easier to block.

      I don't get any e-mails with the ADV: in the subject either. More spammers should follow that rule. "Legitimate" spammers do follow that rule. So I really don't care if the government gives them an out. My mail filter can handle them just fine without legistlation.

      It's the idiots that invent new combinations of words and letters that are a problem. We need legislation to be able to go after those we can as well as techical means and social means to get them to knock it off.

      There are laws about litter, too. That hasn't solved the litter problem but it helps a bit. And just like litter, everyone needs to do their part with spam. Maybe we should take a hint from Singapore and start caneing people who spam.

      Not doing anything because it's not 100% is just silly. There is no silver bullet for spam. It's nice to know that Congress has the sense to at least make some kind of dent. On top of legislation we also need technical solutions and social solutions.

      Pretending we should just focus on one solution is going to accomplish exactly zero.

      Ben
  • damn lame bill (Score:5, Insightful)

    by frovingslosh (582462) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:15PM (#7664673)
    This bill will do absolutely nothing to help. It promotes opt-out, as if spam was only a U.S. problem. Put your e-mail address on the list and expect tons of spam from outside the US. Keep it off and the damn spammers will claim that as an excuse why they should spam you. And when this doomed-to-fail bill has no positive effect, the government will not admit they screwed up in the structure of the bill, rather they will use the failure to say you can't fight spam with bills.

    The only hope I see now is that maybe the E.U. will get their act together and show up the corrupt U.S. idiots.

    • Re:damn lame bill (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cyberformer (257332)
      It's actually even worse than that, because there is no centralized opt-out list. Every company or indicidual maintains its own do-not-spam list, so you have to opt-out of each one individually. Like it used to be with telemarketing before the do-not-call list.

      But it's great for spammers: They don't have to worry about dealing with individual state laws, so can spam indiscriminately and know they're immune from prosecution and lawsuits. That is, if they're confined to the U.S. Companies with a presnece in
    • by CrystalFalcon (233559) on Monday December 08, 2003 @11:38PM (#7665887) Homepage
      It may interest you that the EU has passed a directive requiring opt-in. Several states have implemented this into national law already.

      Fines here in Sweden are stiff, up to $500k for infractions.

      This law has no silly exceptions for charities, religious institutions, etc. The notable exception to the spam law is if you have a previous business relationship with the sending party; I think such an exception is reasonable -- assuming an implied acceptance of marketing material from existing business partners, if nothing else has been stated. In the same breath, though, let me mention that such an acceptance of marketing e-mail within a business relationship can be expressly revoked at any time, even if previously expressly permitted, also as mandated by the same law.

      In Sweden, this law goes into effect on April 1, 2004 (I don't know if there is a hidden meaning in that, but I hope not).

      It is also interesting to note that the law is very broad in scope and covers all text-, video-, and image-based communications where the delivery has a store-and-forward model -- it explicitly covers SMS messaging as well, for example.

      Now, with this said, I shouldn't hope too much that the US, like you say, "show up the corrupt U.S. idiots". The current administration is not known for its humility and desire to learn from other people and cultures.

      (In fact, as a side note, I am amazed at how this administration has managed to turn the mainstream attitude in Europe from "want to be an American too" to "would pick up arms tomorrow against the US if I had the opportunity" in just a few years. It's absolutely unbelievable how arrogant the current president has managed to come himself across to the world; I'm not sure the sheer level of this is realized within the American borders.)
  • Spam them (Score:5, Funny)

    by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:17PM (#7664689) Journal

    Here's a list of the email addresses of all your Congressman. Maybe someone can whip together a script to send them an email asking them to repeal this law, every day until they opt out or repeal the law. Extra karma points for randomizing the title among non-misleading possibilities. Then we just gotta get every single slashdotter to run the program.

    • Oops, the list is here [geocities.com].
    • by silentbozo (542534) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:23PM (#7664727) Journal
      You honestly think that they would have voted for this bill if they actually used their e-mail?

      Devote your resources to bringing them bad press in their home district. Remember, all politics is local. Getting e-mails that their staffers will just toss won't bother them a bit. Getting embarassing questions during fundraisers about how they legalized spam will. Remember, this is an election year. Make spam an issue, and they'll HAVE to defend (or reverse) their position.
      • by toxic666 (529648) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:48PM (#7664894)
        Actually, my US senators and representative do use e-mail and have responded to my comments. No more meaningfully than to snail mail, but they use it. I feel no more disenfranchised when e-mailing them than I do when I used to send letters.

        On the bright side, my state representative uses e-mail very effectively, both responding to my comments, sending out information and requesting feedback on topics with which he is concerned.

        The only one I fail to hear from is my state senator, who gets elected by the party majority on the other side of my district and ignores anything that deals with my concerns.

        The state rep admits spam is out of control, and recommends using good filtering because anything politically palatable enough to pass will be weak and ineffective. Long live open source MTA's and MDA's, rule-based and Bayesian filters. Really, can any legislation keep up with spammer technology? Heck, those open source solutions are about 97% effective from my data and require tuning to stay effective.
      • In certain circles, a well-timed question about whether it was their intention to support purveyors of pornography and fake penis-enlargment medications might work wonders.

        How does one ask a public question like this in a way anybody would see it?
      • What about their relatives emails? Family's? Friends? Just start emailing away...
  • by cabalamat2 (227849) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:20PM (#7664705) Homepage Journal
    What we really need is a law to ban all laws with contrived acronyms.
  • by tloh (451585) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:22PM (#7664716)
    the dyslexic in me read "Congress Sends **** Spam **** To White House". I wonder if Bush has as much use for penis enlargement pills as Clinton might have. Do you think Cheney would be interested in helping a nigerian banker's widow move 6 million USD out of africa?

    okay, I have to go back to my boring life now.
  • So long, e-mail...

    We loved you all the time you were alive.

    We'll greatly miss-you.

  • by rnturn (11092) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:26PM (#7664743)

    ... would put as much time into forming realistic and meaningful legislation as they spent coming up with titles that form catchy acronyms.

  • by macdaddy (38372) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:28PM (#7664756) Homepage Journal
    I have a question. Does anyone know for certain if this will pre-empt existing laws in the various states that are more restrictive than this farse that Uncle Sam is pushing through? For example my state has had an anti-spam law for 2.5 years now and I want to use it. Can I still sue a spammer for violating Kansas's anti-spam law? I'm thinking that I can because I read once that this law would pre-empt laws that aren't already on the books (like a new California law IIRC). Can anyone say for sure though. I know I'd like to know and I'm sure others do too.
  • by pyite (140350) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:29PM (#7664762)
    I'm curious as how they can limit a private party from suing a spammer. Tell me if I'm reading this wrong:
    Amendment VII


    In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
    (Emphasis mine)
  • by IvyMike (178408) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:32PM (#7664782)
    Bush hasn't vetoed anything [infoplease.com] yet...he's sure not going to make waves on something as insignificant as this.

    Grover Clevland...now there's a guy who knew how to veto.

  • Spam Bill (Score:4, Funny)

    by isomeme (177414) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:33PM (#7664796) Homepage Journal
    Congress Sends Anti-Spam Bill To White House
    ...White House Spam Filter Deletes It.

    (Yes, as a matter of fact I did steal that from The Onion, why do you ask?)

  • by Zeromous (668365) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:34PM (#7664800) Homepage


    I should like to point out that most politicians, including senators, run their own small to large businesses, of all shapes and sizes in some way- keeping their hands far enough away to avoid conflict of interest.

    Do you really think that THEIR companies don't spam people?

    And of course the usual suspect lobbies don't help much either, considering this is also politics + business.

  • by pipingguy (566974) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:41PM (#7664847) Homepage
    ...it gives each marketer in the United States one free shot at each consumer's e-mail inbox

    Can a subcontracted person be defined as a 'marketer'? I.E., Joe Spammer pays 'John Smith' $50 to one-time spam 3,000,000 addresses from his email account. 'John Smith' uses a valid return address but abandons account after the dirty deed is done. Technically within the law?
    • If someone pays someone else to send spam, then both the subcontractor and the person hiring the subcontractor have to abide by the opt-out. However, there is nothing stopping a company from offering reseller programs to people who then spam, as they are not paying anyone to spam, merely to resell their product. Plus, the law treats every division of a single company as a separate entity, so every division of your company can send a separate spam. Also, of course, if you set up a company, send 3,000,000
    • The bill uses the term "sender" and it is defined as such:

      (16) SENDER-

      (A) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in subparagraph (B), the term `sender', when used with respect to a commercial electronic mail message, means a person who initiates such a message and whose product, service, or Internet web site is advertised or promoted by the message.

      (B) SEPARATE LINES OF BUSINESS OR DIVISIONS- If an entity operates through separate lines of business or divisions and holds itself out to the recipient
  • by still cynical (17020) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:42PM (#7664856) Homepage
    Tell Cheney they've discovered oil where spammers are located. Watch the bombs start falling.
  • by ryanw (131814) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:45PM (#7664872)
    I know it doesn't allow Private Parties to sue, but I have affiliations with a smaller company that is an ISP for other ISP's. They have like 8 OC48's. Would THEY be able to sue people due to spams I receive through their network?
    • Internet Service Providers may sue under Section 8(g)(1) of the Act:

      A provider of Internet access service adversely affected by a violation of section 5(a)(1), 5(b) or 5(d), or a pattern or practice that violates [section 5(a)(2)-(5)], may bring a civil action . . .

      And get this, ISPs can recover up to $100 per violation under Section 8(g)(3).

      Look for a challenge by spammers to the no-spam list based on the First Amendment in the coming months. They probably will not fare any better than the telemarke

  • by lax-goalie (730970) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:48PM (#7664890)

    The President's come under some criticism of late because he hasn't vetoed any bills in this term. Maybe we can give him a reason to change that.

    White House contact info is at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ [whitehouse.gov] The most effective communication for this type of this thing is a real phone call and fax.

    If you decide to fax a note, the general rules of thumb are to address the issue in the first sentence, to keep it short, be concise with your reasoning, and to note anything that gives you expertise relating to the issue.

    These guys actually do keep track of the mail.

  • Bad idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DigiShaman (671371)
    I hate SPAN as much as the next fellow slashdotter. But having the goverment get it's hand into this sets a bad example. I really think the free market should be able to take care of this. Not the goverment.

  • by Joe Wagner (547696) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:55PM (#7664938) Homepage
    I am the CEO of Hypertouch Inc, one of the few corporations in California to have brought suit against a spammer under the existing CA anti-spam laws, and the only person so far who has be able to get the local DA to take a criminal complaints against spammers under the criminal provision of CA law. (see http://press.hypertouch.com/) Some of the "minor changes" that the Senate made before sending it back to the House include changing the statutory damages from a flat $25 to "up to $25." Now small ISPs can't even count on the paltry $25/message when they decide to take a spammer on in Federal Court.

    I should note one interesting wrinkle. Unlike what is common in other Federal laws, the act "supersedes any statute, regulation, or rule of a State or political subdivision of a State " but says _nothing_ about the District of Columbia. Soooo, if people can rally the DC council to pass a California-like law, perhaps there may be a new place to host your mail servers.

    A final copy of the act can be found on my website. http://www.hypertouch.com/legal/s877-eas.html [hypertouch.com]
    I'm pretty pessimistic about things right now. Here are my chief concerns about the bill.

    1."I CAN SPAM " Act legalizes unlimited spam -- even after"opt-outs "
    The "SEPARATE LINES OF BUSINESS OR DIVISIONS " clause in the act permits spammers to send repeatedly to you even after you've opted out as long as they change domain names, a.k.a. lines of business.

    (B) SEPARATE LINES OF BUSINESS OR DIVISIONS- If an entity operates through separate lines of business or divisions and holds itself out to the recipient of the message, in complying with the requirement under section 5(a)(5)(B) [the opt out section], as that particular line of business or division rather than as the entity of which such line of business or division is a part, then the line of business or the division shall be treated as the sender of such message for purposes of this Act.

    The impression we have is that the DMA asked for this so that one cannot opt out of spam from the Fortune 500 by giving notice to their corporate HQ, you have to track down each"Division. " But more to the glorious point from the Viagra spammers perspective, see what happens if I opt out of a spam for today's mail bin: (picked at random)

    Easiest method to enlarge your $&#@%, stick on the patch, and forget about it! easy as 1-2-3. Find out how we can help your manhood [url in spam: www.prosize-health.biz/in.php?id=43&amp;p_id=2 ]

    By my sending email (or going to Prosize-Health.biz or whatever hoops they choose to put up for their process), I can"opt out. " However that spammer will be able to spam me LEGALLY from all of their other lines of business, e.g. Biggersize-health.biz, etc. Note that the spammer's email only represents itself as Prosize-Health.biz... All they have to do is spend $7 every couple of weeks for a new domain for their new"Line of Busines " (they might even bother to call it a new Division) and they are home free. There is NOTHING I can do to stop this. I can track down every big spammer and personally serve them with an opt-out, but that doesn't trickle down to their thousands of "Divisions. "
    Let's be clear -- Spammers are already talking about this open license on their bulletin boards and mailing lists.

    2."I CAN SPAM " punishes only the spammer, not the marketer
    By rotating through US based spammers, or using untraceable overseas spammers, often in Russia or China, businesses will be allowed to advertise via spam with abandon. The great strength of the upcoming California law is that is target both the marketer and the spammer. That will be gone when California laws are made void. For example, we have been trying to get Discover Credit Card to stop sending spam to us for over 18 months. They literally just regularly rotate through new

    • Great summary of the issues. Unfortunately, this bill is in keeping with the general tenor of the Bush administration, namely, protecting special interests at the expense of the general public. If they come up with a Child Protection Act, you better hide your kids.

      Mind you, I think that new technology is likely to be more effective in halting spam than new legislation. Nevertheless, it is shameful that this law undermines the efforts of people like you who have tried to do something about the problem an

  • and not the spammers. I remember a while back there was a posting about the telemarketers that gave their phone number. After a few phone calls, they decided they didn't like their own medicine very much and even changed their phone number. Like most things we American's take on, we work our asses off for a very short period of time and then get tired of trying and most of us give up. I propose that we contact the companies whose products are advertised in spam, and inform them of how we do not approve
  • I currently have a Hotmail account. One of the things that annoys me is that emails from Microsoft can't be blocked by the internal filter. They always seems to be writing to me, to alert me to the fact that if I pay I can get more features. This to my way of thinking is spam. Will this be blocked? If it is, what does it mean for emails that alert me to the fact that my inbox is nearing its limit? Will they be forced to start deleting my emails if I go over limit without warning because they will be banned
  • I'd like to give a piece of my mind to the reps who voted for this bill. How could they have voted, without some period of a public comment, seeing the fact that spam affects EVERYBODY?

  • Since I haven't been following this issue at all, and since it probably doesn't matter what any of us think about it anyway because our elected representatives don't actually represent us anymore, my only contribution is to point out that the Hormel Meat Company [hormel.com] operates an actual Museum of SPAM [hormel.com] near their corporate hq in Austin, Minnesota. Anybody been there? How about a mini-review?
  • Silver lining (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mark_space2001 (570644) on Monday December 08, 2003 @09:42PM (#7665238)
    I don't if this will work or not, but remember how lawmakers fell all over themselves promoting the do-not-call list after 50 million Americans registered on it?

    That's what might get Congress's attention. Put 50 million email addresses on their do-not-spam list. Put the fear of losing an election in your Congressman.

    I wouldn't register my REAL email address on that list, of course. Heaven forbid that the spammers get ahold of it. But I have a couple of Hotmail addresses that I use for all dubious lists, postings, and web sign-in forms. (Hotmail because it amuses me to send the spam to Microsoft and make them pay for the bandwidth.) If we could all register 50 million addresses of ANY sort on that list I think there might be a chance to get real legislation passed.

    Maybe it's not a fool proof plan (this is the US Congress we are talking about here) but it can't hurt. So sign up and sign your immaginary friends up too. I know I'll be making email accounts just to add to this list, in case I like suddenly need a new spam free email account.

  • but will not allow private parties to sue spammers

    Just to be sure, and because I'm too lazy right not to read through the legalese.... does the law explicitly prohibit private parties from suing spammers?

    And then, what about state laws, I already read a comment [slashdot.org] that quoted: "This Act supersedes any stat-ute, regulation, or rule of a State or political subdivision of a State that expressly regulates the use of electronic mail to send commercial messages, except to the extent that any such statute, reg
    • by sunbird (96442) <sunbird AT riseup DOT net> on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:34PM (#7665533)
      The act does not provide for a private federal law suit based on this particular law. You can still sue under State laws (at least those that are not preempted under Section 8(b)(1)). The act does not supercede other state law claims under laws that are unrelated to regulating email. This means claims founded on common law (trespass or contract claims for example) or another generally-applicable law (for example, a state consumer protection act) will survive this act. See Section 8(b)(2)(A).

      Also, three other types of claims may asserted. First, State attorneys general may sue spammers on behalf of state residents. See Section 7(f)(1). Second, ISPs may sue spammers. See Section 7(g)(1). Third, the Federal Trade Commission, and certain other federal agencies, may sue spammers. See Section 7(a)-(b).

  • by cluge (114877)
    ......but will not allow private parties to sue spammers

    Considering the FTC's prompt aggressive approach to enforcing current consumer protection law, I have little faith in this latest legislative foray. Be it stock scams, penis patches, pornography, or purchase drugs on-line, SPAM already breaks CURRENT laws. I have yet to seem effective enforcement of the laws we already have, does anyone honestly believe that this will this really make a difference?

    Until the people that are harmed (i.e. the people t

  • ...spammers retaliate by launching a massive DoS attack against the entire US senate!

    -AP
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:11AM (#7666448) Homepage
    There's been a last-minute change in the bill. [congress.gov] The version passed by the Senate and approved by the House was to take effect 120 days after enactment. A last-minute change makes the bill effective January 1, 2004. This prevents California's tough anti-spam law from being in effect for over three months.
  • S877 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Skapare (16644) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @02:47AM (#7666533) Homepage

    "S877" goes into my blocking keyword list today

  • by mr_z_beeblebrox (591077) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @06:44AM (#7667049) Journal
    In a bizarre bit of twenty first century irony, Congress has begun using zomby computers all over the internet to flood the white house with copies of the anti spam bill.
    "The president said I am tired of people e-mailing me about penis enlargement etc.... I want to receive something substantial about reducing spam. I guess we misunderstood him to mean that was what he wanted in his inbox" said Tom Daschle.
    "The worst thing about this e-mail is that the last line says 'The president of the United States hopes that you will send this to 75 of your closest friends' That guarantees we will see this for a long while" states Dick Cheney.

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