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New federal anti-spam law will slow—not stop—junk e-mail

by on
in Office Technology,Workplace Communication

President Bush signed the federal government's first law fighting junk e-mail, but don't expect a spam-free e-mail in-box.

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 outlaws slimy practices used by mass e-mailers, such as falsifying the "from" and "subject" lines of e-mail solicitations to trick recipients into opening them.

The law also encourages—but doesn't require—the Federal Trade Commission to create a national "Do-Not-Spam" registry similar to the national "Do-Not-Call" list aimed at telemarketers.

Downsides: The federal law pre-empts much stronger state laws like those on the books in California, Virginia and Washington. And the new law may simply push hard-core spammers offshore, where they can fling their spam back across U.S. borders without repercussion. Online gamblers went offshore for the same reasons.

The law took effect Jan. 1. You can read it at www.spamlaws.com/federal.

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