Senate approves spam bill, goes back to House

The US Senate has approved a national spam bill that would allow fines of up to $US6 million or five-year jail terms for some spammers, but the bill's legislative journey is not over yet.

The Senate, by unanimous consent, approved the House version of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act of 2003, but the bill needed to go back to the House for final approval because the Senate version included some technical corrections to the House version, said a spokesperson for Senator Conrad Burns who was a co-sponsor of the Senate CAN-SPAM bill.

The House is expected to schedule a final vote on the bill December 2, after which the bill would go to President Bush to be signed into law. The House voted 392-5 to approve its pumped-up version of CAN-SPAM, which originally passed the Senate in October.

Critics have said CAN-SPAM would allow "legal" spam to continue because it required that email users opt out of receiving commercial email, instead of requiring that spammers receive opt-in permission before sending email. Some critics have also decried the bill authors' decision not to allow individual email users to sue spammers. CAN-SPAM allows Internet service providers to sue spammers and state attorneys general to sue on behalf of users.

This version of CAN-SPAM also includes a provision requiring the US Federal Trade Commission to come back to Congress within six months with recommendations on how to set up a national do-not-spam list, similar to the national do-not-call telemarketing list now in effect in the US.

CAN-SPAM would not eliminate all spam, but it wouldhelp, said Senator Charles Schumer who pushed for the do-not-spam provision.

"If we did nothing, e-mail would be ruined in a few years and nobody would use it," Schumer said. "With this bill, Congress is saying, 'If you're a spammer, you could wind up in the slammer.'"

CAN-SPAM includes a criminal penalty of up to a year in jail for sending commercial email with false or misleading header information, plus criminal penalties, ranging up to five years in prison, for some common spamming practices, including hacking into someone else's computer to send spam, using open relays to send spam that's intended to deceive and registering five or more email accounts using false information and using those accounts to send bulk spam.

The House version of the bill increased penalties from the Senate version, with up to $US250 per spam email and a cap of $US2 million that can be tripled to $US6 million for aggravated violations.

The Senate version allowed fines of up to $US100 per piece of spam sent with misleading header information, with a maximum fine of $US3 million for aggravated cases.

The House bill also applies its requirements on all pieces of commercial email, not just unsolicited commercial email, as required in the Senate bill. Requirements include a valid reply-to address, a valid postal address and accurate headers and subject lines.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?