Anti-Spam Bill Passes Telecom Subcommittee

March 23, 2001

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Telecommunication and the Internet Subcommittee passed H.R. 718, the Unsolicited Electronic E-Mail Act, to end the problem of unsolicited commercial e-mail. Congressman Gene Green (D-TX) and Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM) introduced this legislation to give both consumers and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) greater control over the flood of unwanted e-mail that flows across their computers. H.R. 718 prohibits companies from sending unsolicited commercial “junk or spam” e-mail unless such e-mail is identified as an unsolicited commercial advertisement and includes a return e-mail address that the consumer may use to “opt out” of future e-mail solicitations.

“Our goal with this legislation is to prohibit the advertisement for online sex sites, get rich quick schemes, and the countless other advertisements that American consumers see flooding into their e-mail accounts every day,” Green added. “The information contained in these ads was never requested and thus should not have been delivered.”

The measures allow consumers to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission-which would take enforcement actions- or to take the company to court to recover damages if they continue to receive unsolicited commercial e-mails after they have requested to be removed from all e-mail lists.

“Delivering these messages costs money, can clog or crash networks, and wastes time and money for consumers who are forced to delete these unwanted messages,”Green stated. “If this practice is left unchecked, it will seriously hinder the future development of the Internet and all of its innovations and applications.”

Many of the provisions in this current spam legislation such as to stop spam that contained a false, fictitious, or misappropriated name of the sender, electronic mail return address, or name and phone number of a telephone contact person had been originally introduced by Congressman Green in the 106th Congress.

“We have been working for almost two years to develop legislation that will return control of the Internet back to the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and return personal computers back to consumers, Green added. “We hope it passes through the full committee swiftly and to have it on the House floor by this summer.”

Provisions of the H.R. 718 bill include:

  • Require accurate return addresses on unsolicited commercial email so people can reply that they don’t want to receive such e-mails;

  • Make it illegal to continue sending junk email to someone after they have asked to be removed from a distribution list;

  • Require unsolicited commercial e-mail to be labeled;

  • Require ISPs to let their customers opt out of getting junk e-mail if the ISP profits from allowing it into their system; and

  • Authorizes the Federal Trade Commission to go after junk e-mailers who violate this law.