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Congress lets spam out of the can

Anti-spam bill has its nads chopped off

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An anti-spam bill has been substantially weakened by a congressional committee, which has pulled measures that would allow consumers to sue junk emailers.

The Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act of 2001 was originally drafted to allow Federal Trade Commission investigation and lawsuits from ISPs or consumers against spammers who don't pull recipients from lists upon request.

These measures, which would have authorised fines of $500 per spam message or $50,000 in total, have now been pulled leaving only a much narrower requirement that mass emails must come with a legitimate return address.

ISPs can still sue spammers who have caused damage to their business but this is one of the few positive measures left in the bill, which is seen by some on Capitol Hill as a wasted opportunity to draft legislation that would introduce effective deterrents against spamming.

IDG reports that after its passage through the Judiciary Committee the watered down bill contains few consumer protection measures. The effects restricting commercial email might have on the development of ecommerce were considered paramount by the Judiciary Committee when it considered the bill.

The modified bill is expected to be considered by the full US House of Representatives later this summer. ®

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Draft of Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act of 2001

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