Congress poised for antispam vote

Congress has reached an agreement on antispam legislation and could vote on it as early as Friday afternoon, a move that would end more than six years of failed attempts to enact a federal law restricting unsolicited commercial e-mail.

Negotiators from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives said Friday that the legislation was a "historic" accomplishment with support from key Democrats and Republicans in both chambers. "For the first time during the Internet-era, American consumers will have the ability to say no to spam," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin, R-La., said in a statement. A spokesman for Tauzin said "they should have it on the floor later today" in the House, adding that aides were working behind closed doors to finalize the bill and that complete details were not available.

The broad outline of the legislation, however, shows that it is a modest compromise and not as far-reaching as some antispam advocates had urged. It establishes a "do not spam" registry to be run by the Federal Trade Commission, makes it a crime punishable by up to five years in prison to send fraudulent spam, and imposes an "opt out" standard instead of a more stringent "opt in" requirement. Unsolicited bulk e-mail from nonprofit groups, politicians, and charities would not be regulated. Still unclear is whether the bill would pre-empt more restrictive state laws such as one enacted in September by California. That law establishes an opt-in standard and is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

News source: C|Net

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