Senate Bill Proposes Spam Controls

NEW YORK U.S. Senators Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced a bill Thursday that is designed to protect consumers from unsolicited commercial e-mails.

Under the bipartisan legislation, called the CAN-SPAM Act (“Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act), all unsolicited marketing e-mail would be required to have a valid return e-mail address so recipients could easily ask to be removed from mass e-mail lists. Once notified, marketers would be prohibited from sending any further messages to a consumer who has asked them to stop.

The bill would also let Internet service providers bring action to keep unlawful spam from their networks. The legislation contains strong enforcement provisions that give the Federal Trade Commission power to impose civil fines on those who violate the law, and State Attorneys General the ability to bring suit on behalf of citizens who have been victimized by unscrupulous marketers.

The senators cited the economic impact of spam, including lost productivity and the additional equipment, software and manpower needed to deal with the problem, as one of the chief reasons for the bill.

Burns and Wyden authored similar spam legislation in the 106th Congress. The current version is based on a bill they introduced in the 107th Congress that passed out of the Commerce Committee unanimously.