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Spam The Internet United States Your Rights Online

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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  • Re:Another Law (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:12PM (#7664647)

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

    Or in this case, promote domestic spam.

  • 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!
  • 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.

  • Another reason.. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:15PM (#7664675)
    ..not to vote for Bush in the coming elections!
  • by tarquin_fim_bim (649994) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:17PM (#7664688)
    No, now spamming is to become legal in the US, it will continue to be the spam center of the world.
  • 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 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 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.

  • by YOU LIKEWISE FAIL IT (651184) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:40PM (#7664844) Homepage Journal

    Agreed. Am I the only person who finds these cutesy acronyms unprofessional and beneath the dignity of the office? U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act indeed.

    YLFI
  • Re:Another Law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_mad_poster (640772) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:44PM (#7664865) Homepage Journal

    Why is this modded Insightful and not Troll or Offtopic?

    They're legislating the same bullshit any legislator of any party legislates - something that looks good to the ignorant public but really satisfies the desires of big shot campaign contributors.

    They know damn well that the general public isn't going to take a closer look at this legislation. It will go into the paper and people will think "oh good, my elected officials are finally doing something". When spam doesn't die down, they'll just forget about it. Re-election material for the morons in Congress and a nod that legitamizes spamming for big business interests in the marketing sector. It's just a typical day on Capitol Hill. Doesn't matter which party's in charge.

  • Bad idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:48PM (#7664891) Homepage
    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 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.
  • Re:What is needed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by the_mad_poster (640772) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Monday December 08, 2003 @08:49PM (#7664898) Homepage Journal

    Except, the only reasonable way to make it unprofitable is to stop the idiots that insist on responding.

  • Re:Another Law (Score:1, Insightful)

    by gid13 (620803) on Monday December 08, 2003 @09:06PM (#7665002)
    You know, I'm aware that laws can bring order. But really, if we aren't legislating morality, what's the point? An ordered immoral society sounds kinda like the Nazis to me...

    Please note that I'm as anti-Republican as the next guy, and generally don't consider them moral. I'm just saying that I don't see any GOOD point of a law doing anything other than legislating morality.
  • 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
  • by Safety Cap (253500) on Monday December 08, 2003 @09:13PM (#7665051) Homepage Journal
    ~ the only possible way you could compare Hitler to anyone ... is to ignore most of what Hitler did.

    Like the part where Hitler suspended civil liberties [cuny.edu] "temporarily"?

  • by Zirnike (640152) on Monday December 08, 2003 @09:17PM (#7665083) Journal
    Or, in other words: "If we can't solve the problem, we're sure as hell not going to let YOU solve it."
  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2003 @10:33PM (#7665530)
    Or the part where Lincoln did.
  • by JayBlalock (635935) on Monday December 08, 2003 @11:03PM (#7665700)
    I think it says something about the general level of cynicism here that this got modded Insightful, rather than Funny.

    Not that I'm disagreeing.

  • Re:I know! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JayBlalock (635935) on Monday December 08, 2003 @11:24PM (#7665826)
    Too bad, in this debacle, both parties are equally culpable.
  • by GSloop (165220) <networkguru@@@sloop...net> on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:09AM (#7666241) Homepage
    Would that be the guy that we (the US) armed?

    And allowed to kill Iranians with poison gas?(with sat data no less)

    Is this the same guy that killed all the kurds and sheites (sp) that we told to rise up and overthrow Saddam - the ones we promptly left to suffer murder and torture at Saddams hands?

    Is this the same guy we sent biological weapons stocks to?

    Could it be the same guy that was told by April Gillaspie (the US ambassador to Iraq) that we didn't have an opinion on their disagreement with Kwuait - it was an arab affair? Then Saddam invades?

    Sure, Saddam was the Executioner. We just loaded his gun for him and looked the other way when the blood ran.

    Sheesh - and this is supposed to make us look good?

    Ashcroft is no Hitler. But he's quickly stripping away the very rights our independence minded fore-fathers risked death to win.

    IMHO, Washington, Jefferson and the others who risked their very lives in signing that document in 1776 would be more than willing to agrue the point that Ashcoft has committed treason.

    Unlimited detention with no juducial review - simply at the whim of the leader of the country - that was one of the situations in England that they found so repugnant! (How short our memory! One would think we of all people wouldn't forget these things.)

    Cheers,
    Greg
  • by Sensitive Claude (709959) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @01:33AM (#7666338) Homepage Journal
    They probably felt that anyone voting against this bill would be seen as being pro-spam.

    This is after all, the Anti-Spam, or in this case the Can Spam bill. They don't think about how effective it actually is going to be, or if it will be worse than useless. They just care about headlines and acronyms. Congress Passes Anti-Spam Law everyone rejoyce!

    It's the same concept of only someone who is unpatriotic would vote against the USA PATRIOT Act.

    And the unfortunate reality is, most people will think this is a good thing, because that is the spin the media will put on it.
  • 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 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.
  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday December 09, 2003 @10:01AM (#7668237) Homepage Journal
    I'm a little worried about the part saying it is illegal to 'hide' return addresses.

    Could this technically make the use of nym servers illegal? Remailers in general?

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