E-mail Spam Bill Advances to the House

We have all experienced the unsolicited barrage of e-mail solicitations. Congress is currently working on curtailing the spamming of America.

A house subcommittee quickly passed the "Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act" on Wednesday, and the bill is expected go before the full House Commerce Committee for a vote next week.

This new bill would require the sender of an e-mail message to have a valid reply to address and to stop sending e-mail if the recipient requests it. The bill also would allow Internet Service Providers to implement their own policies and permit individuals to sue in order to block the unwanted e-mails. "This bill will give parents and consumers the power to say 'Enough is enough' and close their inbox to annoying and obscene junk e-mail," said Representative Heather Wilson, R–New Mexico.

Numerous groups back the effort, but others are worried that giving these rights to both consumers and ISPs may interfere with legitimate advertising efforts. "We have some serious concerns that this bill puts up a number of obstacles to the use of electronic mail for commerce," says Sarah Whitaker, a lobbyist for the National Retail Federation (NRF). "New private rights of action will spawn a host of new lawsuits against senders who inadvertently break the law."

Ms. Whitaker has stated that she is optimistic that the bill will be amended to suit the NRF before it gets sent to the full House for a vote.

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