Missouri Files First Spam Suits

  |  October 10, 2003   |  Comments

The state attorney general files the first two suits under Missouri's six-week-old anti-spam law.

Missouri's attorney general announced on Thursday the first lawsuits under that state's new anti-spam law.

The suits, filed in St. Louis City Circuit Court, stem from the anti-spam law Missouri enacted in late August. The law requires that commercial senders carry an "adv:" label and comply immediately with unsubscribe requests. It defines spam as any commercial email from a person or business that does not have a pre-existing business relationship with the recipient. Violators are subject to prosecution by the state and civil penalties of $5,000 per email, up to $25,000 per day.

Jay Nixon, Missouri's attorney general, accuses two Florida-based emailers with violating these provisions. In the first case, the attorney general says Palm Beach resident Phillip Nixon emailed five unsolicited offers for architectural plans to the state's anti-spam email address, nospam@moago.org. The suit claims the messages were not labeled and did not stop when requested.

The second suit was filed against a Boca Raton company called Fundetective.com. The action alleges the company sent out a number of unsolicited messages advertising short-term loans and personal information gathering services. Again, the attorney general's office said the emails were not labeled as required under the law.

Both suits seek the maximum $5,000 penalty per violation, in addition to injunctions against further unsolicited commercial email that violates Missouri law.

Missouri is one of 35 states to enact anti-spam measures. Earlier this month, California enacted a tough anti-spam law that requires email providers and advertisers to receive "direct consent" from consumers they email. Many commercial emailers complain the hodgepodge of state laws make full compliance nearly impossible. The industry's trade groups want proposed federal anti-spam legislation to supercede state laws and create a universal standard.

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