Ok. You've just received some email. It looks like spam to you. But you are puzzled. Right there in the email it cites S.1618 Title III. Or maybe it cites H.R. 4176. It claims the spam is legal.
So, do you want to know about S.1618 Title III and H.R. 4176?
This page will tell you all about it.
If you are like many people the email you received says something like:
It might even be threatening:
Because of the citation, because of the language, the reader (you?) is easily persuaded that this must be true.
Alas, it is completely bogus.
Well, perhaps that is not fair. It is completely bogus but based on a smidgen of truth.
S.1618 Title III
It turns out that there was a S.1618 titled The Telephone Slamming Bill of 1998. The primary purpose of that bill was to address telephone slamming: changing your long distance provider without your permission.
While that bill was being considered, Senator Frank Murkowski submitted this Title III amendment:
(Sec. 302) empowers the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with regulatory authority over such unsolicited electronic mail, including authority to conduct investigations, commence civil actions against individuals, and impose fines, penalties, and injunctions. Requires the FTC to take appropriate action within two years after the transmission of such electronic mail.
(Sec. 303) Authorizes a State to bring a civil action on behalf of its residents against individuals or entities transmitting electronic mail in violation of this Act. Requires such State to notify the FTC of such action.
(Sec. 304) States that this Act shall not apply to an electronic mail transmission by an interactive computer service provider unless the provider initiates the transmission or the transmission is not made to its own customers.
Authorizes actions by such providers to enforce the sanctions under this Act. Requires such action within one year after receipt of the transmission.
(Sec. 305) Requires a person who receives from any other person an electronic mail message requesting the termination of further transmission of commercial electronic mail to cease such transmissions to the individual. States that a person who secures a good or service from, or otherwise responds electronically to, an offer of unsolicited commercial electronic mail shall be deemed to have authorized such transmission.
Senate and House
Now that sounds a lot like what the email notice was making reference too.
However, it takes both the House and the Senate to make a law. The House was working on its own version of a telephone slamming bill: H.R.3888.
Now H.R.3888 had some "pro-spamming" language in it in Section 301. However, once the public got wind of it the public flooded state and federal offices objecting to the proposal.
So, the House completely removed that portion of the bill.
Instead, H.R.3888 introduced Section 201 that completely turned the tables:
Section 201 sets forth a sense of the Congress resolution regarding the practice of sending consumers unsolicited commercial electronic mail (or "e-mail"), often in bulk. This practice, commonly referred to as "spamming," has been a serious concern to the Committee because spam congests the Internet and other electronic networks. In addition, some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) charge users based on time spent on using their network. Time spent by consumers deleting and preventing spam costs consumers money.
Thus, the Committee, for now, seeks to reduce the practice of spamming without imposing government mandates on the Internet and other electronic networks. Accordingly, the sense of Congress outlined in section 201 calls on the private sector to adopt, implement, and enforce measures that prevent and deter spam. The Committee expects that the private sector will view Congress' charge as a useful opportunity to reduce spam voluntarily.
The Rest of the Story
However it takes both the House and the Senate to make a law.
The House never approved the Senate bill. And, similarly, the Senate never approved the House bill. Neither one became law.
But, the fact that it is not law doesn't stop spammers from citing the bill as justification for what they are doing.
In June 2002 I noticed email that cited H.R. 4176. It said.
So I wondered about H.R. 4176.
A quick search disclosed:
So, as far as I can tell, references to H.R. 4176 are just another example of murk.
Coalition Against Unsoliced Commercial Email: H.R. 4176: This page on the CAUCE site provides some background on H.R. 4176. ««»»
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