Committee Approves Spam Bill

WASHINGTON (06/14/2000) - A bill to regulate unsolicited commercial e-mail, or spam, passed overwhelmingly in the House Commerce Committee Wednesday.

The bill has advanced relatively quickly through the legislative process, pushed by legislators who are hearing loud complaints about junk e-mail from Internet users and ISPs (Internet service providers).

Spam has become a critical consumer protection issue, according to a release issued Wednesday by Representative Heather Wilson, a Republican from New Mexico, and one of the sponsors of the bill.

America Online Inc. (AOL) estimates that 30 percent of its e-mail traffic is spam, and other ISPs have complained that spam clogs their systems, causing slower service for their customers and sometimes crashing their systems, according to Wilson's release.

The Spam Unsolicited Electronic Mail Act passed by the House Commerce Committee Wednesday sets several requirements for e-mail that is defined as spam. The bill would require unsolicited commercial e-mail to have an accurate return address, force spammers to stop sending the e-mail after users request to be removed from the distribution list, and prohibit spammers from gleaning e-mail addresses from Internet registrars.

Under the terms of the bill, ISPs would also have the right to sue spammers for US$500 per message if they violate the policy.

The bill will be forwarded to the full House for consideration.

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