A Colorado state lawmaker has proposed a do-not-e-mail list similar to telemarketing do-not-call lists, making Colorado the second state considering such a measure.
Rep. Ray Rose, R-Montrose, this week introduced House Bill 1200, which would establish a government-maintained database to which consumers could add their e-mail addresses and make it illegal for marketers to send unsolicited e-mail to them.
The first do-not-e-mail proposal was introduced in Missouri in October with the backing of state Attorney General Jay Nixon.
The Colorado bill would exempt e-mail to people with whom the sender has a prior business relationship, e-mail from charitable organizations and e-mail sent solely for political purposes.
The bill would require e-mailers to update their lists within 30 days of the start of every calendar quarter. Registering would be free to consumers. To maintain the database, the law proposes an annual fee on a sliding scale of up to $500 for companies of five employees or more that want to send unsolicited e-mail.
Recipients of e-mail in violation of the bill — and e-mail service providers whose systems were used to send it, unless the provider is the originator of the e-mail — could sue in civil court for actual damages, attorneys fees, court costs and $10 per message. However, the law would prevent action against companies that have made three or fewer violations of the do-not-e-mail list per month.
Similarly, Missouri's no-spam list would let the state's consumers register their e-mail addresses as easily as they can register for the state's DNC list. Registration to the Missouri DNC is free and available online or by calling a toll-free number.
But while Missouri's do-not-e-mail bill has its attorney general's backing, Colorado's attorney general is apparently not as keen on the idea. Ken Lane, spokesman for the Colorado attorney general's office, said it would be virtually impossible to enforce and too costly to implement, according to the Durango Herald.
“There's also the question of jurisdiction,” Lane said.
Also, spam often comes from offshore mailers.
In any case, these are not the first attempts to treat spam similarly to other direct marketing channels.
The Direct Marketing Association debuted an e-mail preference service list three years ago, which is free to consumers at www.e-mps.org and $100 a year for marketers. The service enables people worldwide to opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial e-mail from DMA member companies and other marketers that choose to use it. E-MPS is similar to the DMA's Telephone Preference Service and Mail Preference Service.
However, by all accounts, E-MPS has had trouble gaining traction. For one thing, critics contend, spammers usually aren't DMA members and have no incentive to pay $100 to use the E-MPS or any other opt-out list. Also, most “legitimate” marketers, critics say, already have the permission of customers and prospects to send them e-mail and don't need to purge their lists.
Moreover, e-mail service providers maintain their own suppression files, or opt-out lists as they are often called, and they dwarf the E-MPS, which contains fewer than 1 million addresses, say people familiar with it.
Still, state do-not-e-mail lists merit watching, as the soon-to-be-implemented national DNC list began similarly on a state-by-state basis.