Congress Passes Antispam Bill

FRAMINGHAM (07/21/2000) - The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed an antispam bill this week that would prohibit commercial e-mail messages from being sent to recipients who have asked to be removed from a sender's mailing list.

The measure, which passed by a vote of 427-1, would also prevent companies from sending out messages with inaccurate return addresses that make it impossible for recipients to unsubscribe from mailing lists.

The bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), said passage of the act was the culmination of more than a year of coalition-building after antispam bills with similar intent became bogged down in Congress two years ago. "We are one big step closer to providing consumers with the ability to free themselves from the annoying and sometimes offensive flood of junk e-mail clogging their computers," Wilson said in a statement.

However, at least one analyst questioned whether this bill has any teeth.

"I would label this particular bill that passed as a typical election-year bill. It doesn't do anything. It doesn't hurt anybody. It's useless, or maybe even worse than useless. But it makes Congress look good," said Richard H.

Caro, vice president of ARC Advisory Group Inc. in Dedham, Mass.

Senate Mulling Antispam Lite

John Mozena, co-founder of advocacy group the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE), said he's pleased with the vote. Unsolicited commercial e-mail, known as spam, chews up bandwidth and disk space, necessitates filtering technology for Internet service providers and wastes recipients' time, he said. CAUCE estimates that at least one in every 10 e-mail messages is spam.

The U.S. Senate is also considering antispam legislation, sponsored by Sen.

Conrad Burns (R-Mont.). But unlike the House measure, the Senate version doesn't give spam recipients the right to sue firms that send the messages.

Margret Johnston of the IDG News Service contributed to this article.

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