House Approves Federal Anti-Spam Legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday approved H.R. 3113, the Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act of 2000, by a 427-1 vote.

The anti-spam bill, which was co-sponsored by Reps. Gene Green, D-TX, Heather Wilson, R-NM, and Gary Miller, R-CA, is designed to protect consumers and Internet service providers from unsolicited commercial e-mail flooding their e-mail accounts.

If signed into law, H.R. 3113 would place several restrictions on e-mail marketers, including requirements that commercial e-mail messages have valid reply addresses; that marketers take consumers' names off mailing lists when asked; and that commercial e-mails be appropriately labeled as such.

The bill also would allow ISPs and consumers to petition the Federal Trade Commission for cease-and-desist orders, and would protect state laws that allow consumers to sue spammers.

Financial penalties would start at $500 per violation but could not exceed $50,000. However, if a judge found that a company committed excessive violations, the sum could rise to as much as $150,000.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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