Spam Bills Pass Michigan Senate

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Two spam-related bills passed the Michigan state Senate yesterday and were sent to the House, where approval reportedly is expected.

SB 357 calls for establishing a do-not-e-mail list modeled after do-not-call telemarketing lists, and it would require senders of unsolicited commercial e-mail to register with the state and pay an undetermined annual fee.

The bill would require senders to update their lists with the latest available copy of the registry every 30 days. It also would place the burden of proof on the sender that the recipient gave permission to the sender.

House Bill 4519 does not call for the creation of a do-not-e-mail registry.

However, both bills call for subject lines of unsolicited e-mail sent to Michigan residents to begin with "ADV:" and include the sender's name, street address, a valid Internet domain name and return e-mail address.

Each bill also would require senders of unsolicited e-mail to include in their e-mails a valid toll-free number and a sender-operated return e-mail address or other easy-to-use and free electronic method that recipients could use to opt out of future mailings, along with clear and conspicuous notice of the option to do so.

Both bills also would ban misrepresenting the origin of e-mail.

They would let recipients, e-mail service providers and Michigan's attorney general sue for the lesser of actual damages or $500 per e-mail up to $250,000 for each day the violation occurs.

Michigan is the third state to consider a do-not-e-mail bill. The other two are Missouri and Colorado. Thirty-four states have spam-related legislation on their books. As a result, business groups are pushing for one federal law to supersede them.

On the federal level, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, has proposed a national do-not-e-mail list. It is pending with a slew of other spam-related bills in the U.S. House and Senate. Spam has recently become such a universal annoyance -- and many believe a threat to the Internet's existence -- that Congress is expected to pass some sort of spam legislation this year.

While Schumer's bill has gotten grassroots support among consumer activists, the Direct Marketing Association opposes the establishment of a do-not-e-mail registry of any sort.

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