CONGRESS SENDS ANTI-SPAM BILL TO WHITE HOUSE

President Bush Expected to Sign It Into Law Quickly

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Congress today sent anti-spam legislation to the White House, and President Bush is expected to sign

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it by year's end, establishing a federal law that supercedes all state anti-spam statutes.

Marketers who had previously opposed federal anti-spam legislation ultimately supported the bill after 37 states passed their own laws, which often conflicted with one another. The high-profile passage of California's tough anti-spam law, which was to take effect Jan. 1, galvanized the marketing lobby earlier this year. Marketers have previously said California's law alone threatened $17.5 billion in Internet sales.

Lawsuits
Critics point out that the congressional bill is softer than the California law in terms of who it empowers to sue. The California measure allowed individual consumers to sue marketers who violate anti-spam rules. Marketing groups feared this would result in numerous class action lawsuits. The bill allows only the federal government, state governments or Internet service providers to sue spam lawbreakers.

The bill, which imposes some new curbs and penalties, creates a single uniform national standard. It requires marketers to give consumers a right to opt out of future e-mails and requires the marketers to comply with the request within 10 days.

Do-not-spam
The federal statute also gives the Federal Trade Commission authority to create a do-not-spam list; criminalizes the sending of spam with phony headers; and provides a $250 per e-mail penalty up to $2 million for sending e-mails to someone who has opted out. In certain extreme cases, the $2 million can be tripled.

Under the bill, commercial e-mails would also need to include real physical addresses. The legislation also allowed the Federal Communications Commission to bar marketers from sending e-mail to consumers' cell phones, except for those consumers who opt-in for such phone-targeted messages.

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