Michigan Senate Passes Law Creating Do-Not-E-mail List

Michigan’s state Senate unanimously passed an anti-spam law on Tuesday that calls for the creation of a do-not-email list. The law still needs to be passed by the state’s house of representatives and signed into law by the governor.

Under the terms of the bill, passed 37 to zero, the state’ consumer and industry services division would contract with a company to maintain a do-not-email list. Michigan residents fed up with the flood of spam in their in-boxes would then be able to register their email addresses on the list for $5 each. Businesses would pay a $150 blanket fee to cover all their employees. Registration would last three years.

Supporters of the law, and a similar federal initiative championed by New York Sen. Charles Schumer, say such measures are needed to deal with the unremitting flow of unsolicited email. Skeptics, including Federal Trade Commissioner Mozelle Thompson say such measures have little hope of working.

As passed, the measure would bar marketers from making email solicitations to those on the list with whom they did not already have a prior business relationship. A prior business relationship is defined in the law as a business having interaction with a customer in the past decade. Violators would be punished by a misdemeanor charge carrying up to a year in prison and a fine of $10,000 per email.

The Michigan measure’s chief sponsor, state Sen. Michael Bishop, said the bill would create “the toughest anti-spam bill in the nation.”

“Our creation of a do-not-email list pushes Michigan to the forefront in protection against unsolicited email,” he said in a statement.

Michigan is one of 32 states with anti-spam bills on the books. But the state laws might all come to naught since spam has captured the attention of federal legislators. So far, seven federal spam bills been introduced this session. A bill introduced today, The Criminal Spam Act of 2003, calls for spammers to be punished by up to five years in jail. Like most federal laws, the bill would preempt state spam laws.

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