IIAA Endorses Goodlatte Anti-Spam Bill

October 3, 2001

An e-mail anti-spam bill offered by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) strikes a positive balance between protecting consumers from an unwanted avalanche of commercial e-mails while still permitting small businesses to use online marketing practices, according to IIAA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Maria L. Berthoud.

IIAA is supporting the bipartisan Anti-Spamming Act (H.R. 1017) offered by Goodlatte and Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) over a competing measure. Rep. Heather Wilson’s (R-N.M.) Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act (HR 718) takes a more draconian regulatory and legal approach to restricting unsolicited e-mails by creating criminal penalties and permitting lawsuits that would seriously threaten legitimate business and online marketing practices. IIAA is opposing Wilson’s HR 718.

HR 1017 addresses many areas of concern for consumers and small business owners. In addition to mitigating unsolicited commercial e-mail, known as spam, the Goodlatte/Boucher proposal secures safeguards for the online marketing practices used by independent insurance agents and other small business entrepreneurs.

The Goodlatte/Boucher bill would make it a crime to send e-mail with false information about the sender’s origin or to attempt to conceal the sender’s origin and to sell or distribute a computer program designed to conceal the source or routing information of commercial e-mail. It provides civil penalties and allows attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs as part of civil relief from e-mail spam violations.

“The Goodlatte/Boucher bill is a well-crafted balance the respects wishes of consumers while also ensuring the continued use of legitimate e-mail marketing practices by independent insurance agents and millions of other small business owners,” Berthoud said. “We don’t need a heavy-handed regulatory approach to curbing unwanted commercial e-mails. We need a commonsense process, and that’s what HR 1017 offers consumers and business owners alike.”

House Republican leaders had planned to bring the issue to the floor for debate last week, but the debate was shelved following the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C. and southwestern Pennsylvania. Staff-level talks aimed at reaching a compromise between the Goodlatte/Boucher and Wilson proposals currently are underway. If an accord is reached, the issue could be given expedited consideration on the House floor.

“Anti-spam legislation will be debated at some point in this Congress and IIAA will work with Reps. Goodlatte and Boucher and the House leadership to ensure that the more business friendly Goodlatte/Boucher bill is the basis for a new law,” Berthoud explained. “It’s important for consumers and it’s important to independent agents.”

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