Bush signs antispam law

President Bush signed into law today the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM Act) in an effort to prevent unsolicited commercial e-mail, known as spam.

The law allows consumers the choice to stop receiving further spam from a sender, and provides protection against spam containing unmarked pornographic material.

"There is no magic bullet to stop spam. The solution will require technology, self-help and enforcement. This legislation provides additional help for law enforcers" such as the Federal Trade Commission, said FTC Chairman Tim Murris while receiving questions on the online interactive forum "Ask the White House" this morning.

Murris stated that the difficulty in finding spammers and the very low costs of sending additional spam are two main reasons that spam is such a significant problem.

Under the new law, consumers will have the option to notify senders not to send additional spam. Senders who do not honor these requests are subject to civil penalties.

The CAN-SPAM Act requires that sexually explicit spam contain a label identifying it in the subject line, which will allow consumers to filter it. This law requires the FTC to develop this label within four months.

Violation of this requirement will be considered a criminal offense, and senders are subject to fines or imprisonment.

The FTC is also directed to develop a plan and timetable for a do-not-spam registry by next June, and to report to Congress within 18 months on the feasibility of requiring an advertisement label in the subject line of all unsolicited commercial e-mail.

"We are devoting more and more resources to finding and stopping spammers," Murris said. "The CAN-SPAM Act provides us another useful tool in the fight against fraudulent and deceptive spam."

The Information Technology Association of America also applauded today's signing, calling the law a "framework of administrative, civil and criminal tools."

"By helping to pull the plug on spam, our elected officials have helped email users avoid online scams, pornography and other nuisance content. This is a red letter day for consumers," said ITAA President Harris Miller.

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