NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Anti-Spam Legislation Gaining Popularity

June 25, 2003

Anti-spam legislation introduced by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) has earned unusually strong support from anti-spam groups, who say it will come closer than any other congressional proposal to telling spammers to stop.

Schumer 's Stop Pornography and Abusive Marketing Act, or SPAM Act, calls for a national "No Spam Registry." A computer user could register his or her e-mail address in a federal database similar to the new "do not call" lists designed to fend off telemarketers.

  • A national "no spam" list would allow the FTC to fine spammers up to $5,000 for each violation; those who misuse the registry could be fined up to $100,000.
  • Additionally, those receiving spam could sue for as much as $1,000 for each such e-mail.
  • Repeat offenders could get jail time.

Under the SPAM Act, parents could register a minor's e-mail addresses in the no-spam registry. Even if the child opted for a spam solicitation, the registry would take precedence, making it illegal for spammers to send e-mails to the child's address.

In general, any unsolicited e-mail sent in bulk is considered spam, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and it makes up about 40 percent of all e-mail. Most spam advertises for financial services or other products or is pornographic in nature. Spammers routinely send billions of e-mails per day, costing businesses and consumers more than $10 billion each year.

Source: Tim Lemke, "Anti-spam groups hail Schumer legislation," Washington Times, June 25, 2003.


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