California Cans Spam

California Gov. Pete Wilson this week signed into law two pieces of legislation aimed at putting a lid on unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail, or spam.

Both laws take effect in January.

California Assembly bill 1629, the Internet Consumer Protection Act, makes spamming a crime unless there is a pre-existing relationship between the sender and the recipient.

Under the bill, Internet service providers who notify e-mailers of an anti-spam policy can collect civil damages from unsolicited bulk e-mailers equal to the amount of money lost because of the unsolicited e-mail, or $50 for each e-mail message, up to a maximum of $25,000 per day, whichever is greater.

The second law, California Assembly bill 1676 sponsored by Rep. Debra Bowen (D-Torrence), will require companies sending "unsolicited advertising material" by e-mail to include "ADV:" in the subject line of the e-mail and "ADV:ADLT" in the subject line if the advertising e-mail is intended only for people over age 18.

The Bowen bill also will require companies sending bulk advertising e-mail to California residents to set up a toll-free number and include it, along with a valid return address, in the e-mail so recipients can call and opt out of future mailings.

The text of both bills is available at


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