Passes Hatch-Leahy Criminal Penalties
For Worst Internet Spammers
. . Bipartisan Legislation Creates Federal
Predatory and Abusive Commercial E-mail
WASHINGTON (Wed., Oct. 22) - The Senate Wednesday
afternoon approved by voice vote legislation that
would create criminal penalties to curb the technological
menace clogging America's in-boxes -- Internet spam.
legislation was adopted as an amendment to the
Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography
and Marketing Act or CAN Spam Act of 2003 (S.877).
Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
the panel's chairman and ranking Democratic member,
authored and introduced the Criminal Spam Act
earlier this summer. The amendment approved
Wednesday, drawn from the Hatch-Leahy bill, is
also co-sponsored by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.),
Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Charles Grassley
legislation targets the pernicious problem of
spam at its source by zeroing in on the most
egregious offenders: Those who hijack computer
systems or use other fraudulent means to send
junk commercial e-mail.
is a serious problem that threatens to undermine
the vast potential of the Internet to foster
the free exchange of information and commerce," said
Leahy. "Our legislation targets the principal
techniques that spammers use to evade filtering
software and cover their tracks. Ridding America's
inboxes of deceptively delivered spam would go
a long way toward clearing our electronic channels
for Internet users from coast-to-coast."
Service Providers and employers have taken numerous
and costly steps to shield customers and employees
from the billions of spam launched against them
each day, but the spammers are winning the battle.
A recent study by Ferris Research estimates that
spam costs U.S. businesses $8.9 billion annually
as a result of lost productivity and the need
to purchase more powerful servers and additional
equipment and software.
is also fertile ground for deceptive trade practices.
The FTC has estimated that 96 percent of the
spam involving investment and business opportunities,
and nearly half of the spam advertising health
services and products, and travel and leisure,
contains false or misleading information.
repercussions from spam are more than just financial.
Such junk e-mail may introduce viruses, worms,
and destructive programs into personal and business
computer systems, including those that support
our national infrastructure.
sometimes known as 'the cyber senator' for his
enthusiasm for and leadership on Internet issues,
said, "I have often said that the government
should regulate the Internet only when absolutely
necessary. Unfortunately, spammers have made
this one of those times."
Hatch-Leahy Amendment includes the following
it a crime to hack into a computer, or to use
a computer system that the owner has made available
for other purposes, as a conduit for bulk commercial
sending bulk commercial e-mail that either
falsifies the source, destination or routing
information associated with the e-mail, or
is generated from hijacked Internet address
space or falsely registered e-mail accounts
or domain names;
violators to stiff criminal penalties of up
to five years' imprisonment where the offense
is committed in furtherance of any felony,
or where the defendant has previously been
convicted of a similar federal or state offense,
and up to three years' imprisonment where other
aggravating factors exist.
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