Fraudulent or Just Unwanted

By Caron Carlson  |  Posted 2003-07-10 Print this article Print

?"> Fraudulent or Just Unwanted? However, Congress continues to struggle at square one with defining spam. All agree that fraudulent e-mail and unsolicited pornographic e-mail must be curbed, but there is considerable debate on what other classes of unwanted e-mail Congress should try to limit.
For many average e-mail users, the problem with spam is not limited to fraudulent messages or unsolicited pornography, but it also includes the growing volume of unwanted messages. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., noted Tuesday that the definition of spam is "in the eye of the beholder." Other judiciary committee members complained of the "harassment" of volumes of unwanted—but not necessarily fraudulent—e-mail, and consumer advocates agree.
However, industry is seeking a bright line between fraudulent spammers and legitimate businesses that send unsolicited e-mail and are pressing Congress to focus its efforts on the frauds. Legislation should not penalize legitimate businesses, which would give frauds an advantage, Joe Rubin, an attorney with the U.S. Chamber of Congress, told lawmakers Tuesday. Calling the Burr bill the weaker and less protective of the two, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., said Wednesday that it "creates a new category of legalized spam." Dingell and several other lawmakers expressed concern that the Burr bill does not give states full enforcement authority and it arbitrarily limits the damages state attorneys general can seek. Other lawmakers said they were concerned that the Burr bill leaves too many loopholes for spammers to exploit and that it creates burdens on enforcement because it requires a showing that a spammer knew or should have known about the opt-out provision. Optimistic that sponsors of the two bills can reach common ground, Upton said there is negotiating room for increasing the damage caps and closing loopholes.


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