TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Ohio Lawmakers OK Bill That Sends Spammers to Jail

Ohio Lawmakers OK Bill That Sends Spammers to Jail

Lisa Minter (
Wed, 1 Dec 2004 11:41:04 EST

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Ohio legislators sent an anti-spam bill to
Gov. Bob Taft on Tuesday, with the aim of joining other U.S. states
that have laws that put people who flood the Web with junk e-mail
behind bars.

The bill, first introduced in January and already approved by the
state Senate, overwhelmingly passed the Ohio House of Representatives
on Tuesday, said an aide to Rep. Kathleen Walcher, who co-sponsored
the bill.

Taft could not be immediately reached for comment. One industry source
said the Ohio governor is expected to sign the bipartisan anti-spam

If signed into law, it would outlaw Internet ads that are deceptive or
misleading and ban people from setting up false accounts to send spam,
the junk e-mail that clogs consumers' online mailboxes and taxes the
resources of Internet service providers.

The measure would also allow the state attorney general to impose
criminal and civil sanctions against spammers.

The worst violators could face a minimum of six months in jail as well
as fines of $25,000 per violation, or $2 to $8 million per conviction
for violating e-mail. Their computer equipment could be confiscated,
and Internet providers could sue for damages.

AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham called the Ohio bill "one of the
strongest anti-spam measures in the country." Graham said the bill is
aimed only at the worst offenders who use fraud, deception and evasion
to get their messages in front of consumers.

"This is not meant to snag grandma sending her oatmeal cookie recipe,"
he said.

AOL, a unit of Time Warner Inc. said it worked closely with the
bill's sponsors.

The Ohio bill was modeled after the federal CAN-SPAM Act but adds
tougher penalties. Maryland has adopted an anti-spam law with criminal
penalties and Virginia recently used its state law to send a North
Carolina man to prison for sending hundreds of thousands of spam
e-mail messages.

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