California bans all spam e-mail

California took a tough stand against spam e-mail on Wednesday after its Governor, Gray Davis signed a law prohibiting anyone from sending unsolicited commercial e-mail advertisements to a California e-mail address.

The law sets up an "opt-in" requirement, the aim being to prevent e-mail users from getting e-mail advertisements unless they asked to be on the sender's list. Senders of unsolicited messages could be held liable for damages up to US$1,000 for each message to an individual and up to US$1 million for each e-mail advertisement sent out. The recipient, the state attorney general or the e-mail service provider could seek damages.

The law also bans sending spam from California and prohibits the collection of e-mail addresses or registering multiple e-mail addresses for the purpose of sending spam. It passed the state Senate on Sept. 11 as Senate Bill 186. Another bill, Senate Bill 12, which proponents said would have allowed Internet service providers to be held liable for spam, died in an state Assembly committee in July. The author of that bill, State Senator Debra Bowen of Redondo Beach, said Microsoft Corp. had spearheaded an effort to defeat it. Microsoft denied the charge.

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