States outlaw spam

At least 18 states have enacted or are working on legislation that would impose stiff penalties on commercial e-mailers who engage in unsavory tactics.

Topics:

If laws could stop spam, we’d probably
get a lot less e-mail. Several state
legislatures began trying to regulate
commercial e-mail in 1997 and, even as a
href="/tech/feature/2000/04/19/spam_legislation/index.html">federal anti-spam
bill heads to the House, more states
are writing their own legislation –
complete with pricy penalties for
violating the law. The following is a
summary of state laws that have been
enacted or are moving through state
legislatures.

California: Three laws
collectively require that unsolicited
commercial e-mail include “ADV:” (an
abbreviation for “advertisement”) or
“ADV:ADLT” in the subject line and that
the sender’s contact information not be
falsified. ISPs can sue for $50 per
message, up to $25,000 per day.
Activists are also pushing to get a “ban
spam” href="http://www.voterrevolt.org/phone.html">initiative on the fall ballot.

Colorado: A href="http://www.leg.state.co.us/inetcbill.nsf/fsbillcont/1B7AB76187933E8B8725683300659676?Open&file=1309ba.pdf">bill making its way through the state
legislature would forbid senders of
unsolicited commercial e-mail from
falsifying contact information, require
ads to be tagged “ADV” in the subject
line and offer a free opt-out mechanism.
Spam recipients and ISPs could sue for
$10 per message plus actual damages.

Connecticut: Existing law
prohibits software that falsifies
routing information and unsolicited
advertisements that contain falsified
routing information. Gives ISPs the
right to actual damages or $200,
whichever is greater.

Delaware: Prohibits software that
falsifies routing information and
unsolicited advertisements containing
falsified routing information. The law
doesn’t specify damages; it makes spam a
misdemeanor and exempts ISPs from
liability for the transmission of spam.

Hawaii: Three bills are pending
on the subject of unsolicited electronic
mail. Only one of them, Senate Bill 2352 has been passed by the
Senate. It criminalizes spam as
“computer fraud” and allows for civil
suits and the recovery of actual
damages.



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Idaho: A bill currently before the Senate
would prohibit unsolicited
advertisements that contain false
contact information. It would allow
recipients to sue for actual damages,
$100 per message, or $1,000, whichever
is greater.

Iowa: The law prohibits the
dissemination of e-mail with a forged
return address and lets recipients
recover actual damages, $10 per message
or $500 per suit, whichever is greater.
ISPs can sue for actual damages, $10 per
message or $25,000 per suit, whichever
is greater.

Illinois: Current legislation
outlaws unsolicited commercial e-mail
that uses a third party’s domain name
without permission, or contains
falsified routing information or a
misleading subject line. Individuals
and ISPs can recover damages or $10 per
message, up to $25,000 per day,
whichever is smaller. Several bills –
="http://www.legis.state.il.us/scripts/i
mstran.exe?LIBSINCWHB3318">HB 3318,

HB 2718,
HB 1123,
HB 2819
– are pending.

Maryland: A bill under
consideration would prohibit a person
from sending unsolicited commercial
e-mail and/or knowingly falsifying or
forging routing information.

Nebraska: A bill to ban
unsolicited e-mail failed in committee,
but a legislative study of spam is being
pursued.

Nevada: The state enacted the
first spam law in 1997, which makes it
illegal to send unsolicited commercial
e-mail unless it is labeled and has
opt-out instructions.

North Carolina: Legislation
prohibits unsolicited commercial e-mail;
it considers forged contact information
to be “computer trespass” and gives ISPs
and spam recipients the right to sue for
damages, $10 per message, or $25,000 per
day, whichever is smaller.

Oklahoma: The state prohibits
forgery of e-mail headers or other
information in connection with spamming,
and allows recipients and ISPs to sue
for actual damages, $10 per message or
$25,000 per day, whichever is smaller.

Rhode Island: One of the
strictest states, Rhode Island has
criminalized e-mail forgery and header
falsification, and requires senders to
give either a valid e-mail address or
toll-free number to call for removal.
ISPs and recipients can sue for $500 per
message, up to $25,000 per day and
spammers can also be liable to the
state, with fines of up to $5,000 and
imprisonment up to five years.

Tennessee: The law requires
unsolicited commercial e-mail to be
tagged with “ADV” or “ADV: ADLT” in the
subject line. Also, senders must
include a valid e-mail address or
toll-free number. ISPs and individuals
can sue for actual damages, or $10 per
message, up to $25,000 per day,
whichever is smaller.

Virginia: Legislation prohibits
forgery of e-mail addresses and outlaws
bulk e-mail software. Recipients can
sue for actual damages or the lesser of
$10 per message or $25,000 per day.
ISPs can sue for actual damages or the
greater of $10 per message or $25,000
per day.

Washington: A judge target="new"
href="http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1007-200-1572322.html?pt.salon">challenged
the state’s anti-spam law last month,
claiming that it was unconstitutional;
the state attorney general then filed an
appeal. As the law stands, it prohibits
unsolicited commercial e-mail with a
false header, domain name or misleading
subject line. Recipients can recover
actual damages or $500 per message,
whichever is greater. ISPs can sue for
actual damages or $1,000 per message,
whichever is greater.

West Virginia: The state
prohibits “sexually explicit materials”
in unsolicited e-mails and falsification
of return addresses; it also outlaws
software that falsifies data.
Recipients can sue for actual damages or
$1,000 per violation. ISPs can win
actual damages or $10 per message or
$25,000 per day, whichever is greater.

Damien Cave is an associate editor at Rolling Stone and a contributing writer at Salon.

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