The Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer
Protection Thursday approved the Unsolicited Electronic Mail Act
Dubbed the “Can Spam Act,” it’s an effort to end the problem of unsolicited
commercial e-mail. The bipartisan bill was introduced to the House in October.
Specifically, the bill would require accurate return addresses on
unsolicited commercial e-mail and makes it illegal to continue spamming
someone after they have requested to be removed from a distribution list.
The bill requires that Internet service providers protect their customers
from spam if the ISP profits from allowing spam into their system. ISPs
also have the right to sue spammers for $500 per message if they violate
the carriers acceptable use policy.
The bill also makes harvesting e-mail address from Internet registrars
illegal. Although the specifics remain difficult to prove, the Federal Trade Commission is authorized to
pursue spammers who violate this law.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM), said ISPs
are charged with the authority to help eliminate the growing unsolicited
“Internet service providers who now bear the cost of unwanted spam as
advertising costs are shifted from the advertiser to the service provider.”
Wilson said. “I look forward to working with Congressman Miller and
Congressman Green to ensure that this important piece of legislation is
enacted into law.”
Congressman Gary Miller (R-CA) said Congress is committed to fighting for
the rights of consumers and ISPs against those who abuse the Internet for
their own financial gain.
Congressman Gene Green (D-TX) added that Internet users have to spend both
time and money to sort out and delete unsolicited messages.
“This legislation weeds out fraudulent spam and eliminates hassles for
Internet users,” Green said. “By combining our efforts, we can ensure that
consumers are able to benefit from the Internet without any financial or
The “Can Spam Act” is a compromise piece of legislation that combines Rep.
Wilson’s consumer protection provisions with Rep. Miller’s allowances for
ISPs to protect their property and customers in court. Coupled with Rep.
Green’s provision to prohibit the use of false e-mail addresses and false
routing information creates comprehensive protection against those who
abuse the Internet by shifting their costs onto e-mail recipients.
The committee-approved bill must move through the full Commerce Committee
and the House of Representatives before it could become law.
Rep. Mill expects support for the bill throughout the entire
“We now have momentum behind a sound approach to controlling the
unsolicited commercial e-mail problem,” Miller said.
Opt-in e-mail advertiser ChooseYourMail.com is among the firms that worked closely
with Congressman Miller over the past year to develop the “Can Spam Act.”
“Spam is not just an annoyance but a real problem that costs consumers and
ISPs real money,” said CYM President Ian D. Oxman said. “I am glad to see the Congress is moving
forward with a reasonable anti-spam bill. Without this type
of legislation, the future of ethical e-mail advertising is at risk.”