NAII Says N.Y. Anti-Spam Bill Could Hinder Insurer E-Mailings

April 8, 2003

The National Association of Independent Insurers expressed concerns that insurers doing business in New York could be adversely affected by a proposed “anti-spam” bill, which could interfere with their ability to contact their customers by electronic mail.

“Although S.B. 1680 purports to stop spam, its language could affect insurers’ ability to send their customers important e-mail,” stated NAII senior counsel Gerald L. Zimmerman. “We are concerned about this and are working with legislators to clarify the bill.”

The NAII explained that “In its current form, S.B. 1680, which is scheduled for hearing this week by the Senate Consumer Protection Committee, would seem to grant Internet service providers (ISPs) the right to unilaterally block e-mails without providing notice to the senders, and then give the ISPs complete immunity for their actions. However, since more insurers are using bulk e-mail to communicate with their customers, ISPs may not know whether insurer e-mails fit into one of the exemption categories.”

Zimmerman indicated that the NAII’s concern “is that giving this kind of seizure authority to private companies and then granting them immunity is problematic A possible remedy could be that insurers or other companies certify that their transmissions are sent only to existing customers, or that the transmission meets the requirements imposed by this bill for unsolicited commercial e-mail.”

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