• United States
Contributing Writer

California takes on spammers

Sep 30, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMalware

* California's anti-spam bill

Last week saw the historic signing of a bill that puts spammers in the crosshairs.

Governor Gray Davis, who is being threatened by a recall vote, put his “John Hancock” on what is being called “the toughest anti-spam legislation” in the nation – it lists exact penalties for people who send unsolicited bulk e-mail.

Davis is joined in this fight by Senator Kevin Murray (D-Calif.). “Advertisers are well aware of the disruption, waste and cost of these e-mails and should be held as accountable as those sending the e-mails. Companies will no longer ignore consumers’ unsubscribe requests without severe penalty,” Murray said in a statement issued by the state of California. “This bill will be the toughest anti-spam bill in the nation and offers consumers the protection they demand.”

Spammers can now be fined up to $1 million per e-mail campaign sent to Californians.

On this issue, I stand firmly on the side of the folks who say this is nice, but it’s not enough. And this is not one of those issues that the government can sweep in and solve.

First of all, who’s going to prosecute all these cases? Americans could see their tax dollars fly out the window as we determine what is considered a “spam” campaign. It’s going to be a difficult fight. One thing this legislation will do is hopefully deter the spammers that are easily scared.

I think a better plan would be to educate citizens on what spam is. There are so many definitions nowadays and so many loopholes about opting in and opting out that the government would do well to clear this up once and for all in a public awareness campaign. I’m not saying this facetiously, but you might get a bunch of people who put their hands to their chin, say, “aha, I guess I was spamming. Now that I know, I’ll stop it.”

And, of course, there will be those people who will continue their ways and I say, go after them.

There also has to be a concerted effort to not only build technology that weeds out spam, but also again educate people on the need to use it. Building this stuff is terrific, having the greater population use it would be even better.

I still applaud California on its efforts – it’s a great way to kick the spam battle back into the spotlight.

What do you think? Is California’s legislation enough? Or does more need to be done? Let me know at