US antispam bill is death to anonymity

John Gilmore gnu at
Sat Nov 22 14:43:00 EST 2003

This bill makes it a crime to use any false or misleading information
in a domain name or email account application, and then send an email.
That would make a large fraction of hotmail users instant criminals.

It also makes it a crime to remove or alter information in message
headers in ways that would make it harder for a police officer
to determine who had sent the email.  Anonymizers will be illegal
as soon as this bill becomes law.

There are MANY, MANY other things wrong with it -- including the fact
that most of its provisions apply to *ALL* commercial email, not just
BULK commercial email -- and that it takes zero account of the First
Amendment, attempting to list what topics someone can validly send
messages about, while outlawing all other topics that relate to
commercial transactions.

If it passes, I think I can make a criminal out of just about any
company.  Companies are liable for spam that helps them, even if they
had no part in sending it.

Read the bill yourself:
And weep.  And then call your Congressman.

Everyone's common sense goes out the window when the topic is spam.
They're willing to sacrifice whatever principles they have.  And
you already know how few principles Congress had left.  


Congress Poised for Vote on Anti-Spam Bill
Declan McCullagh
Published: November 21, 2003

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. [...]

If the measure becomes law, certain forms of spam will be officially
legalized. The final bill says spammers may send as many "commercial
electronic mail messages" as they like--as long as the messages are
obviously advertisements with a valid U.S. postal address or P.O. box
and an unsubscribe link at the bottom. Junk e-mail essentially would
be treated like junk postal mail, with nonfraudulent e-mail legalized
until the recipient chooses to unsubscribe. [...]

One hotly contested dispute has been resolved: The bill would pre-empt
more restrictive state laws, including one that California enacted in
September. That law established an opt-in standard and was scheduled
to take effect on Jan. 1. With final passage of this bill, the core of
California's law would never take effect. [...]

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