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September 27, 1998

HOUSE COMMERCE COMMITTEE DROPS SPAM PROVISIONS

By CBR Staff Writer

The house Commerce Committee has removed controversial language from Representative Billy Tauzin’s anti-slamming bill, HR3888. An amendment to the bill had outraged net activists because if passed into law it would have legitimated some forms of unsolicited commercial email, or spam. All spammers would have to do would be include the words This is unsolicited commercial email somewhere in the message, and the bill assumed a software filter would do the rest. In spite of the obvious flaws in this proposal – such a filter would swallow up an article like this one, for example – spam has already begun to circulate claiming legality under HR3888. The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE), the Internet Service Providers’ Coalition, The Commercial Internet Exchange and Hotmail Corp were among the key activist groups to mobilize against the Tauzin bill’s amendments. For once, Washington listened. The bill now declares that it is the responsibility of the private sector to adopt, implement and enforce measures to deter and prevent the improper use of unsolicited commercial electronic mail. CAUCE co-founder and legislative liaison Ray Everett Church says that while he would have preferred to see Congress ban spam entirely, CAUCE applauds the decision of the Commerce Committee to step back from the flawed legislation. The Coalition sticks to its guns on the need for anti-spam laws, arguing that it is impossible to stop spam through industry self-regulation and technical means. Instead, CAUCE calls for legislation that would require marketers to get permission before sending commercial email – an effective legal death to spam.

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