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State bill aims to curb spam

A California state legislator introduces a bill aimed at curbing spam not only in the Golden State, but on the Internet as a whole.

A California state legislator today introduced a bill aimed at curbing spam not only in the Golden State, but on the Internet as a whole.

Assemblyman Gary G. Miller's (R-Diamond Bar) bill, dubbed the Internet Consumer Protection Act, seeks to ban companies from sending unsolicited commercial email to any Californian.

Miller based the bill on the Netizens Protection Act, a national bill introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey). It is one of several antispam bills pending before Congress. (See related story)

Miller would prefer a national solution, but he feels that a California law would have far-reaching repercussions because California is so populous and influential in the technology space, said John Cusey, Miller's legislative aid.

It would be impossible for spammers to know whether their recipients were from California or another state, Cusey added.

Many antispammers use technology and complaints to Internet service providers to try to stop junk email. Now they say legislation is the only real way to curb spam. But others say that the Internet's international nature makes it impossible to either pass or enforce laws on a global basis.

Spammers, they argue, could easily operate from any number of countries where spam could remain perfectly legal.

So far, no one has come up with a perfect solution to prevent junk email, one of the few aspects of the Net that most Netizens can agree to hate. To some it is annoying; to others, it is catastrophic.

Miller introduced the bill after being contacted by a constituent whose business computer crashed for a few days after a spammer used that constituent's name as a return address on a piece of junk email.

Spam also has clogged the networks of Internet service providers large and small. Many ISPs say it is costing the industry millions of dollars per year.

Miller's bill also would prevent companies from sending anonymous email, even if it is solicited.

"It is time for the law to catch up with technology, especially in the case of spam, where families and businesses are forced to receive large amounts of objectionable material over the Internet," Miller said in a statement. "This is an issue of consumer protection, privacy, and private property."