March 10, 2004

Wyden: First Suits under Can-Spam Good News for Oregon E-Mail Users

Internet Service Providers announce civil action against alleged violators

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today applauded the announcement by major Internet service providers (ISPs) of six lawsuits against alleged violators of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Wyden, with U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), wrote the first-ever Federal anti-spam law to protect Oregonians and all Internet users from unsolicited and often offensive e-mail. America Online, Earthlink, Microsoft and Yahoo! announced their legal action at a press conference this morning, praising the CAN-SPAM law for empowering them with new ways to protect consumers from spam. More information about the lawsuits can be found on the Web sites of each filing ISP. "Today's actions prove that the days of spamming with impunity are over, and that those who annoy Oregonians and consumers across America with junk e-mail will face serious consequences for their actions," said Wyden. "I believe this action marks the dawn of a new day for spammers - one in which they face real accountability. This is just one of the anti-spam tools in CAN-SPAM's tool box; I'm looking forward to seeing all of the laws provisions being used to protect consumers against annoying, offensive and destructive unsolicited e-mail." Wyden is also encouraging strong enforcement under other provisions of the CAN-SPAM law, and has written Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Timothy Muris requesting that the agency move promptly to prepare enforcement cases against high-volume "kingpin" spammers. Worldwide, billions of spam e-mail messages are sent each day, comprising more than half all e-mail traffic. Spam costs an estimated $10 billion per year due to expenses for anti-spam equipment, manpower and lost productivity. As the ISPs' lawsuits reflect, the CAN SPAM law specifically targets deceptive messages sent by large-volume spammers, who often hide their identities, use misleading subject lines, and refuse to honor opt-out requests from spam recipients. The law prohibits false and deceptive headers and subject lines, provides increased penalties for particularly nefarious spamming techniques, requires senders of commercial e-mail to include an enforceable opt-out mechanism, and includes strong, multi-pronged enforcement by the FTC, state attorneys general, and ISPs with the potential for multi-million dollar judgments.