Washington, November 24, 2003 ( –  After an all night session, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an anti-spam bill this past Saturday morning by a vote of 395-2. CNET reports that the Senate is expected to follow and pass the measure, titled the “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act”, this week.  Pornographic and other offensive or aggressive unsolicited email has been proliferating out of control on the Internet in recent years and threatening to nearly collapse the communications network. Parents have been concerned about the exposure of their children to the growing flood of email trash. Adults have also become disgusted with the massive volume of this offensive or overly aggressive email marketing that is jamming their in boxes and businesses are experiencing massive costs related to coping with junk email.  The bill passed on Saturday says spammers may send as many “commercial electronic mail messages” as they like—as long as the messages are obviously advertisements with a valid U.S. postal address or P.O. box and an unsubscribe link at the bottom. Junk e-mail essentially would be treated like junk postal mail, with nonfraudulent e-mail legalized until the recipient chooses to unsubscribe.

CNET also reports that the bill prohibits the following:

* Falsifying e-mail header information or using either a mail server or open relay to “deceive or mislead recipients” about the origin of a commercial e-mail message. Also outlawed is registering for “5 or more” e-mail accounts or “2 or more domain names” with false information and using them to send commercial e-mail messages. Penalties include up to three years in prison for a first offence.  * Sending commercial e-mail with deceptive subject lines that “would be likely to mislead a recipient.”  * Sending commercial e-mail that does not include “a functioning return” address or a link to a Web form that is capable of accepting unsubscribe requests.  * E-mail address “harvesting” by crawling Web sites and automated guessing of e-mail addresses by trying [email protected], [email protected] and so on.  * Using automated methods such as scripts to sign up for free Web-based e-mail accounts such as ones provided by Hotmail or Yahoo.  * Sending commercial e-mail with “sexually oriented material” unless it includes a label to be devised by the FTC. That requirement does not apply to opt-in lists. Violations can be punished by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Should the bill pass the Senate, Canadian and other western governments will likely be under pressure from their citizens to imitate the U.S. legislation to give them the same legal protection from the email spam scourge.  See the CNET report at


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