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Congressman Gene Green

Representing the 29th District of Texas

Green-Wilson Agree on Major Anti-Spam Bill

November 21, 2003
Press Release
Washington, DC - Congressman Gene Green (D-Houston), and Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-Albuquerque), primary sponsors of  the Anti-Spam Act of 2003, (H.R. 2515) today announced an agreement with House Energy and Commerce Chairman Billy Tauzin and House Judiciary Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, primary cosponsors of H.R. 2214, on compromise anti-spam legislation.  
The agreement resulted in significant improvements over the Tauzin-Sensenbrenner bill and the Senate passed Burns-Wyden bill, S. 877, and reflected provisions which Reps. Green, Willson, and House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member John Dingell had sought. 
The agreement was reached after a period of intense negotiations in recent days.  The bill is expected to come to the floor of the House this afternoon.
Spam is overloading personal accounts and networks. Its getting worse everyday, Green said.  Our agreement marks an improvement over the Senate bill and the Burr bill.  This bill fights back against spammers. 
"Unwanted emails will no longer be unavoidable, and consumers will now have recourse," Wilson said.  "This legislation includes steps to protect people from pornographic content they do not want to see, and curb the worst intrusions of spammers.  The bill gives law enforcement the authority to crack down on violators."
With the support of all key parties, the compromise legislation is expected to be quickly approved by the House and the Senate before the end of the legislative session and move to the Presidents desk soon after for signature.
Reps. Green and Wilson have been advocating their strong anti-spam legislation for more than four years in Congress.
Principal provisions of the House agreement include:
  • Clear definitions of commercial e-mail without exceptions for particular industry groups.
  • Law applies to all commercial e-mail with the exception of specific transactional messages like warranty, product recall or confirmation of transaction information.
  • Requires that commercial e-mail be labeled, have a valid return address, and a physical postal address.
  • Prohibits continuing to send commercial e-mail to people who have asked to not receive it after a 10 day grace period.
  • Prohibits false header information and deceptive subject lines.
  • Prohibits harvesting e-mail addresses from web sites like E-Bay.
  • Prohibits automated dictionary spam attacks.
  • Requires warning labels on sexually explicit e-mail the electronic brown paper wrapper
  • Prohibits using other peoples computers or e-mail accounts for sending commercial e-mail.
  • Criminal penalties for fraudulent headers, using other peoples e-mail accounts or computers to send commercial e-mail with fines and imprisonment up to 5 years
  • Civil enforcement by the FTC, state Attorney Generals, or internet service providers with actual damages, and statutory damages up to $250 per e-mail up to a cap of $2 million or up to $6 million if the violation of the law is willful.
  • Directs the FTC to plan a Do Not Spam registry within 6 months and to implement it within 9 months after that.
  • Supercedes relevant state laws on regulating commercial e-mail.
  • Date of implementation is January 1, 2004.