Senate OKs new anti-spam legislation
March 17, 2006
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate late last night took another step toward cracking down on junk e-mail by unanimously approving legislation to give federal regulators more power to track down overseas hackers and spammers.
The legislation ( S. 1608 ), by Florida’s Sen. Bill Nelson and Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI), was a top priority for government regulators charged with nabbing illegal spammers. It would let them share investigation information with foreign counterparts to spur law enforcement action against people who send illegal e-mail from abroad.
The so-called SAFEWEB Act was filed to fix a flaw in the anti-spam legislation Congress enacted in 2003. Under the earlier law, U.S. regulators chasing even the worst spammers were limited in their ability to nab them because they couldn’t disclose information to outside enforcement agencies in other countries.
Officials at the Federal Trade Commission said information sharing is necessary to combat the increasing flow of spam and fraud originating from off-shore sites. “The bottom line is - we’re all seriously fed up with invasive and offensive junk e-mail,” Nelson said Friday.
Prior to last night’s Senate approval, the bill received unanimous support by the Senate Commerce Committee. Nelson, a member of the Senate’s Commerce Committee and a longtime consumer-privacy advocate, says he’s hopeful his anti-spam measure will receive sponsorship in the House and quickly win passage.
Nelson says the next step is to push for passage of an anti-spyware bill, aimed at curbing the unwanted downloading of harmful programs onto unsuspecting Internet users’ computers.
Nelson was outspoken three years ago when Congress passed the nation’s first anti-spam law. He won inclusion in that bill of a provision to set tough criminal penalties for those who send large volumes of unsolicited e-mail in schemes that involve crimes such as identity theft, obscenity, child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children.
Overall, however, the bill has failed to stop the flow of unwanted junk e-mail, especially from spammers who regulators say more frequently are setting up operations outside the U.S.