Corzine and Lofgren Offer Solid Solutions to Fight Spam

July 9, 2003
Press Release

Legislation enlists the aid of private “bounty hunters” in tracking down illegal e-mail marketers

Media Contact: Christine Glunz, 202.225.3072

Washington, DC — Today, the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection and the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet are holding a joint hearing entitled, "Legislative Efforts to Combat Spam."  The REDUCE SPAM Act of 2003 introduced by both U.S. Senator Jon S. Corzine (D-NJ) and U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) offers solid solutions to fight spam by enlisting the aid of private “bounty hunters” in tracking down illegal e-mail marketers and requires marketers to label bulk commercial spam as "ADV:" and bulk adult spam as "ADV:ADLT." 

“Unwanted e-mails‹many of them containing fraudulent claims‹are clogging our computers and wasting the time and money of businesses and consumers alike,” said Corzine. “By enlisting the aid of private citizens, we can create a broad, public-private partnership that will be far more effective than relying exclusively on government investigators to identify and prosecute illegal spammers.”

“Congress must pass an effective spam bill this year that offers common sense solutions to end this growing problem,” Lofgren said.  “Each day, AOL alone blocks 1 billion messages and this number will only grow.  The problem is not just the volume of spam, it’s tracking down the bad actors.”

The flood of spam e-mail is growing so fast that it will soon account for over half of all e-mails sent in the United States.  Experts estimate that unsolicited e-mail or “spam” accounts for nearly 40 percent of e-mail traffic at an annual cost of $10 billion to U.S. businesses in lost productivity and additional equipment and software.  Some estimates suggest that spam will soon account for over half of all e-mails sent in the United States.

The REDUCE SPAM Act authorizes the FTC to collect civil fines against marketers who violate these requirements.   It also creates a strong incentive for people to report violations by awarding a bounty of 20% of the civil fine levied by the Federal Trade Commission to the first person who provides information about the spammer.  It also gives Internet service providers the right to bring civil actions against marketers who violate these requirements and disrupt their networks by establishing criminal penalties for fraudulent spam.

The legislation would require marketers to establish a valid return e-mail address where a person can opt-out of receiving further e-mails and prohibits marketers from sending any further e-mail after a person opts-out.   It would also prohibit spam with false or misleading router information and deceptive subject headings by requiring marketers to both label commercial spam as “ADV:” or  “ADV:ADLT” for adult spam and establish valid return e-mail addresses, which would enable easy filtering of unwanted messages.