Legislators May Amend Anti-spam Law

Legislators May Amend Anti-spam Law


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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Legislators may amend Utah's 2-year-old anti-spam law in response to complaints that it is too lax and its definitions are vague.

The law on unsolicited e-mail advertisements is to be discussed Wednesday by the Legislature's Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee.

"This is an issue that has been plaguing many of our constituents and one that we hear about often," said Sen. Patrice Arent, D-South Cottonwood.

Utah's law provides civil remedies of only $10 but will pay attorney's fees.

That has attorney Jesse Riddle under fire by critics who say his firm sues spammers to get the fees.

"We are in an uncomfortable position because we would prefer the legislation not focus on the fees," he said.

Most states with anti-spam statutes provide statutory damages of $500 to $1,000, Riddle said.

Since Utah's law was enacted, Riddle's firm has filed 1,000 lawsuits based on the review of some 45,000 e-mails over the past two years.

Utah is among more than two dozen states that have enacted laws requiring unsolicited e-mail to have the letters "adv" in the subject line, flagging recipients that the sender is advertising a product.

Exceptions are made where the sender has pre-existing relationships with the recipients or has their consent.

Riddle and Arent say "pre-existing" and "consent" need to be more clearly defined.

"There's been several problems we have encountered in the legislation because of its vague definitions," Riddle said. "It would be great if the Legislature could clarify these issues so the court does not have to try to read into it what the Legislature intended."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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