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Putting spam in the can

Sen. Ron Wyden writes: Rampant pornography and fraudulent credit deals were never the destiny of the Internet, but they have become commonplace fixtures for inboxes everywhere.

    In response to the June 25 Perspectives column by Fran Maier, "Hitting spam below the belt":

    Witnessing the growth of the Internet in our newfangled, hi-tech world, we have all come up against unsolicited spam e-mail. Last night I checked my e-mail account to find my inbox flooded with 70 new messages. I was dismayed to find that only one of these messages was from someone I knew. Unfortunately, this abundance of junk e-mail is not unusual for frequent e-mail users.

    I have been working closely with my colleague Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to eliminate spam for many years. I was pleased to see the Burns-Wyden Can-Spam bill pass out of the Commerce Committee on May 17th, 2002. The Can-Spam bill empowers consumers and grants additional enforcement authority to the Federal Trade Commission to take action against spammers. The bill will put an end to this online harassment by allowing users to remove themselves from mass e-mail lists and imposing steep fines of up to $1.5 million on spammers. Internet service providers will also be able to file lawsuits against people who fail to comply with the laws. For particularly flagrant offenders, the Can-Spam bill carries misdemeanor criminal penalties.

    Rampant pornography and fraudulent credit deals were never the destiny of the Internet, but they have become commonplace fixtures for inboxes everywhere. Unchecked, spam is destined to cost businesses up to $400 dollars per inbox and sprout into our accounts at a rate of 1,600 messages by 2005. The Can-Spam bill empowers consumers with the choice to close their doors to such marketing once and for all.

    These junk e-mails are especially troublesome to users in rural areas who must often pay long-distance charges for Internet connections and waste time and money erasing spam. It has flooded the systems of ISPs, causing network shutdowns and incalculable economic damage to e-commerce. The Can-Spam bill provides a safety net for consumers, while at the same time maintaining the integrity of e-commerce.

    The Internet has provided tremendous commercial and educational opportunities to people across the globe, but with these opportunities also come problems as the door is left open for people to swamp Americans with unsolicited e-mail. The Can-Spam bill, which is quickly moving toward becoming a law, can efficiently put an end to this scourge and save many people the time, money and headaches that are caused by this cumbersome junk e-mail.

    Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont.