Skip navigation

Spammers Beware: New Bill Seeks Criminal Enforcement

The Senate Commerce Committee approved Bill S.630 "Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2001," or the "CAN SPAM Act of 2001" for short. The CAN-SPAM act is designed to protect consumers and businesses from unsolicited commercial email (UCE) or spam and to levy fines and allow civil and criminal actions against spammers.

The act, if it becomes law, will require e-marketers to include a working return address to let recipients refuse further emails, prohibit e-marketers from using falsified subject lines, and allow for civil fines of up to $10 per unlawful message with a cap of $500,000, which could triple if the courts find the violation was willful. In addition, state attorneys general would be able to sue spammers on behalf of the citizens of their states, and ISPs would be able to sue to keep unlawful spam off their networks. Spammers that intentionally disguise their identities would be subject to misdemeanor criminal penalties. The act would also make it unlawful for any person to aid in the transmission of e-marketing messages to recipients whose email addresses were collected in automated fashion from a Web site or proprietary online service, or if addresses were obtained from a site that posts a notice stating that the site won't give, sell, or otherwise transfer addresses to a third party.

You can download a copy of the original bill as well as copies of the versions marked up during the Senate committee hearing at the Spam Law Web site. The new bill is headed to the full Senate for approval into law.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.