Congress OKs antispam legislation

Tuesday, 9 December 2003, 3:46 PM EST

The unanimous approval by the House of Representatives ends a tumultuous process that stretched over more than six years and was marked by more than a dozen competing bills, all of which took different approaches to the ever-growing problem of unsolicited commercial e-mail.

The final version of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act represents a compromise aimed at eliminating the most egregious tactics used by spammers, such as forging e-mail headers and sending unsolicited pornographic advertisements. It requires that marketers include "a functioning return" address or a link to a Web form capable of accepting unsubscribe requests.

Supporters of the legislation said that the growing problem of spam, and the amount of money it costs U.S. businesses, meant urgent action was necessary. "It's been a long time coming, and it was a lot of work to get it there," said Chris Fitzgerald, spokesman for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. "But this is the first national law to crack down on kingpin spammers and to help protect Americans from unwanted and often offensive e-mail."

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