Indiana Lawmaker Targets Spam

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Indiana has become the latest state to take aim at spam as state Sen. David Ford, R-Hartford City, is sponsoring a bill that would make it illegal to send deceptive e-mail to Indiana residents from anywhere in the country.

The legislation would let Indiana attorney general Steve Carter go after spammers similarly to the way he has been known to pursue telemarketers who violate the state's do-not-call list.

Indiana has been among the nation's strongest proponents of telemarketing no-call laws and has about 1.2 million telephone numbers in its state DNC list. The state is known as one of the most active in enforcing its no-call law.

At least 26 states reportedly have anti-spam legislation on the books.

Washington state attorney general Christine Gregoire in September won a summary judgment against Jason Heckel, Salem, OR, under a law similar to the one proposed in Indiana.

Under Washington's 1998 Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act, it is illegal to send e-mail to people in that state containing deceptive subject lines, false return addresses or that use someone's domain name without permission.

Gregoire sued Heckel and his company, Natural Instincts, in 1998 alleging that in marketing a $40 booklet, "How to Profit from the Internet," Heckel used misleading subject lines that read "Did I get the right e-mail address?" and "For your review -- HANDS OFF!" to get recipients to open them. The suit also alleged that Heckel used an invalid return address to which recipients were unable to respond.

Indiana's proposed anti-spam legislation also follows a bill introduced in the California state Senate that would let recipients of unsolicited commercial e-mail sue the sender for $500 for each message received.

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