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Did MS, AOL, Yahoo block vote on California antispam bill?


Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 15:25:04 -0700
From: "Bretschneider, Jennie" <Jennie.Bretschneider@SEN.CA.GOV>
Subject: PR CA spam bill/Microsoft

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            	
CONTACT: Jennie Bretschneider
June 17, 2003

(916) 445-5953/(916) 855-7286




SACRAMENTO - Backed by Microsoft, America Online (AOL) and Yahoo!, the
Assembly Business & Professions Committee today refused to permit a vote on
SB 12 by California State Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), a bill that
sought to create the country's toughest anti-spam law by requiring
advertisers to get permission from computer users before sending them
unsolicited ads.

"Spam accounts for more than half of all e-mail sent, sticking businesses
with a $20 billion tab for unsolicited ads they didn't ask for and don't
want," said Bowen (D-Redondo Beach). "Spam isn't legitimate advertising and
it's not free speech - it's basically high-tech junk faxing that forces
e-mail users to pay for someone else's advertising campaign through slower
computer service and higher Internet access fees."

Today in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft announced it filed 13 civil suits
against U.S. spammers for sending unwanted, deceptive, commercial e-mail to
Microsoft customers.  Meanwhile, at that same time, Microsoft was testifying
in Sacramento, California, before the Assembly Business & Professions
Committee against Senator Bowen's bill, that would have banned spam and
created an "opt-in" system for sending unsolicited commercial e-mail.  If
enacted, it would be the strongest anti-spam bill in the country, but
Microsoft opposed it because it would have required businesses to get
permission before sending e-mail ads (a concept known as "opt-in") and would
have allowed individual e-mail spam victims to sue spammers for $500 per

"Who do you trust to protect your e-mail inbox in the war against spam,
Microsoft, AOL, and Yahoo! or the Attorney General and the Privacy Rights
Clearinghouse?," asked Bowen, referring to the three leading opponents and
the two leading supporters of SB 12.  "If you don't want to be sued for
sending spam, don't send spam, it's not all that complicated.

"Microsoft, AOL, and Yahoo! sit in committee with a straight face, saying
they're trying to improve the bill, while at the same time they're back in
Washington, pushing measures to wipe out this bill and every single
anti-spam law that states have adopted over the past half-dozen years,"
continued Bowen.  "Why?  Because they don't want to ban spam, they want to
license it and make money from spammers by deciding what's 'legitimate' or
'acceptable' unsolicited commercial advertising, then charging those
advertisers a fee to wheel their spam into your e-mail inbox without your

SB 12 repeals California's "opt-out" spam statute in favor of a tougher
"opt-in" system modeled on the federal law that bans unsolicited fax
advertising.  The bill requires companies that want to send e-mail ads to
get an e-mail user's permission in advance if they don't already have a
business relationship with the person.  SB 12 allows any Californian who
receives unsolicited ads to sue the sender and the advertiser in court for
$500 per spam and the judge can triple the fine if he or she finds the
sender willfully and knowingly violates the California ban.  The bill also
requires the court to impose an additional $250 per spam civil penalty to be
directed to high tech crime task forces throughout the state in any spam

A June 10 report by the Radicati Group
<http://www.radicati.com/single_report/index.shtml> > found e-mail spam will
cost companies $20.5 billion in 2003, and by 2007, businesses will be
forking over nearly ten times that amount of money, or  $198 billion, to
battle spam.  A June 2 report by MessageLabs
418&region=america> >, a private anti-spam service, found 55.1% of all
e-mail sent in May 2003 was spam.  Jupiter Research found U.S. e-mail users
received more than 140 billion pieces of spam in 2001 and an estimated 261
billion pieces in 2002 - an 86%  increase.  A Harris Interactive
(www.harrisinteractive.com <http://www.harrisinteractive.com> ) poll
released in early January found that 74% of online users surveyed would
favor laws to outlaw spam.

SB 12 was approved by the Senate last month on a bipartisan 21-12 vote and
may be reconsidered by the committee in the next few weeks.

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