Maryland Lawmakers Take Stand on Spam

Gretchen Gallen
MARYLAND – As the Can-Spam Act of 2004 continues to get slammed by critics who say that it has done virtually nothing to hinder the amount of spam that circulates through the average user's inbox, individual states are resorting back to previous anti-spam legislation that existed prior to the federal government's involvement in the national spam crisis.

This week, Maryland lawmakers passed a bill intended to target high-volume spammers, who are typically eligible for stiffer fines and punishment for their illegal email marketing practices.

The proposed bill would enable state authorities to penalize spammers up to 10 years in jail and $25,000 in fines for deceptive email tactics. State authorities would also be able to file injunctions against spammers and shut down their businesses. In some cases, spammers would also be forced to forfeit personal property.

Virginia and several other states have recently enacted similar anti-spam legislation.

One of the bill's authors, Maryland state Delegate Neil Quinter, claims the bill is intended to add additional enforcement to federal law, which focuses its protection on consumers, rather than businesses. Additionally, Maryland's proposed bill would enable city and county prosecutors to file lawsuits against spammers, whereas litigation under Can-Spam can only be acted on by state Attorneys General.

Quinter's bill has so far been endorsed by America Online and many other Internet service providers involved in the war on spam. AOL reportedly endorsed the bill in March and testified on its behalf in front of the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis.

The bill is currently being reviewed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

"Spam is growing exponentially," Quinter said, "and I'm sure the feds can't do enough."