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S.877 CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 | Public Law 108-187 pdf
Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003
A bill to regulate interstate commerce by imposing limitations and penalties on the transmission of unsolicited commercial electronic mail via the Internet. Sponsor: Sen Burns, Conrad R. [MT] (introduced 4/10/2003), Senate 5/2/03

Codified as

Legis History in sum: "S. 877 was introduced by Sen. Burns on April 10, 2003.  On October 22, 2003, the measure was agreed to in the Senate with an amendment by a vote of 97 - 0 (Record Vote Number: 404).  On November 22, 2003 (legislative day of November 21) the bill was agreed to by a vote of 392 - 5 (Roll No. 671).  On November 25, 2003, the Senate concurred in the House amendment with an amendment by unanimous consent.  On December 8, 2003, the House agreed to the Senate amendment to the House amendment without objection."

Reps. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and John Dingell (D-MI), the Committee's ranking member released their versions of the Legislative History on Jan 28

Hearing on the Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail 2001 (H.R. 95) Before the Senate Communications Subcommittee, Apr. 26, 2001

149 Cong. Rec. H12186-02

Cost Estimate "CBO estimates that implementing S. 877 would cost about $1 million in 2004 and about $2 million a year in 2005 and thereafter, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts. CBO estimates that civil penalties collected as a result of enacting this bill would increase governmental receipts (revenues) by about $3 million a year when fully implemented (by 2005). The bill also would have additional effects on revenues and direct spending by imposing costs on banking regulators and by creating new criminal penalties. However, CBO estimates that those additional effects would be negligible."  CBO Cost Estimate for S 877

Supremacy Clause:  Can SPAM Reporedly pre empts state SPAM laws.

Blacklists: "(c) NO EFFECT ON POLICIES OF PROVIDERS OF INTERNET ACCESS SERVICE- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to have any effect on the lawfulness or unlawfulness, under any other provision of law, of the adoption, implementation, or enforcement by a provider of Internet access service of a policy of declining to transmit, route, relay, handle, or store certain types of electronic mail messages."

FTC Studies:

  • Do not email registry (authorized but not required)
  • Special labeling of sexually explicit spam
  • Labelling of all spam
  • Bounty system to promote enforcement.
  • Report to Congress due in 2 years
Wireless SPAM: Sec. 14 of the Act gives authority to the FCC to do something about SPAM to wireless devices. The FCC must adopt rules implementing the Act within 9 months (end of September 2004).
Who Can I Contact?
Unsolicited Commercial Email can be sent to the Federal Trade Commission at

Other Relevant Laws


  • Counter Spy Act of 2007, S 1625


  • Federal District Court
    • Aitken v. Communications Works of America , No. 1:06cv1161 (EDVA July 12, 2007).
      • Defendant union created Yahoo! email accounts impersonating Verizon officers and sent out emails to employees of Verizon extolling the virtues of union membership. The question before the court was whether these emails which had falsified headers were commercial in nature in order to fall under the CAN SPAM Act. The court found that the emails were solicitations to exchange union dues for union membership and therefore were commercial in nature; the fact that the union is a non-profit had no bearing on whether the email was a part of a commercial transaction.
    • Intel v. Hamidi Stanford Cyberlaw Clinic 71 P.3d 296 (Cal. 2003).
    • Hypertouch, Inc. v. Kennedy-Western University, No. 3:04-cv-05203-SI (N.D. Cal. March 8, 2006) (Free email ISP is an "Internet access service).
    • AOL. v. Nat. Health Care Discount, Inc., 121 F.Supp.2d 1255 (N.D. Iowa 2000) (applying Trespass to Chattels to spam case)
    • AOL. v. LCGM, 46 F. Supp. 2d 444 (E.D. Va. 1998) (applying Trespass to Chattels to spam case)
    • AOL v. IMS, 24 F. Supp. 2d 548 (E.D. Va. 1998) (applying Trespass to Chattels to spam case)
    • CompuServ Inc v. Cyber Promotions Inc., 962 FSupp 1015 (SDOH 1997) (applying Trespass to Chattels to spam case)
  • State Court
    • Pallorium, Inc. v Jared (Cal Ct. App. 2007) (unpublished) (defendant who maintained a public database of open relay servers - computers frequently exploited in order to distribute spam - is immune from liability pursuant to Good Samaritan provisions of the CDA)
    • MaryCLE v. First Choice Internet, Inc., (Md. Cir. Ct 2004) (striking down Maryland SPAM law as a violation of the dormant Commerce Clause)
    • Ferguson v. Friendfinders, Inc., 94 Cal. App. 4th 1255 (1st Dist. 2002) (upholding California anti-spam statute)
    • State v. Heckel, 24 P3d 404 (Wash. 2001) (upholding Washington's anti-spam statute)
  • Enforcement Cases
  • Preemption Cases

Federal Action




  • Government
    • Federal Communications Commission Consumer Bureau
    • Federal Trade Commission
    • Internet Crime Complaint Center
      • About ICCC
        • "The Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) was established as a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) to serve as a means to receive Internet related criminal complaints, research, develop and refer the criminal complaints to law enforcement agencies for any investigation they deem to be appropriate. The IFCC was intended, and continues to emphasize serving the broader law enforcement community, to include federal, as well as state and local agencies, which are combating Internet crime and in many cases participating in Cyber Crime Task Forces." Internet Crime Complaint Center
        • "The IC3 receives more than 17,000 complaints every month from consumers alone...over 25 percent of all complaints to the IC3 involve some use of spam electronic mail." Senate Commerce Committee Can Spam Act Hearing May 20, 2004  The Testimony of Ms. Jana D. Monroe  Assistant Director, Cyber Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation
      • Project SLAM-Spam
        • "The SLAM-Spam initiative has now moved beyond the planning stages, and has begun identifying and packaging investigations from the field. Within the last few months, the Initiative has: · Identified over 100 significant spammers · Targeted 50 Spammers so identified as points of focus for the SLAM-Spam project. · Developed ten primary subject packets developed and for referral to Law Enforcement · Linked three groups of subjects into potential organized criminal enterprises · Referred five significant ongoing investigations linked to spammers. · Over 350 compromised and misconfigured resources identified, including 50 government sites. · Engaged military criminal investigators to help identify criminal acts associated with compromised Government sites. · Identified common denominators relating to spam both domestically and internationally. · Catalogued numerous exploits and techniques being used by spammers, including e-mail harvesting, use of viruses, and turn-key tools to bypass filters. [A sample of these exploits and techniques is attached to the end of this testimony.] Future Initiatives: The FBI, via the IC3, periodically coordinates National Investigative Initiatives, together with our Federal, State, and Local partners. Such initiatives are designed to highlight escalating areas of cyber crime, and demonstrate decisive action taken by law enforcement to combat it. These events also serve to alert the public to new and evolving cyber crime schemes, such as criminal spam. Three such initiatives have been carried out over the last 2 ½ years, including Operation Cyber Loss, Operation E-Con, and most recently Operation Cyber Sweep. A succeeding initiative is being projected for later this year in which it is anticipated that criminal and civil actions under the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 will be included. We have begun preliminary notification to our field offices of our newest initiative, underscoring our emphasis on cases involving criminal uses of spam. Such cases may be investigated and prosecuted as computer intrusion matters, or as on-line cyber frauds which may lend themselves to a variety of existing state and/or federal statutes, including the recently passed CAN-SPAM Act. Similar notifications have been or will be made through appropriate channels to the U.S. Secret Service, U.S Postal Inspection Service, the FTC, the Department of Justice, and in the state and local agencies that are members of the National White Collar Crime Center. We are already planning meetings to ensure that this initiative is on track, and to further define the scope and packaging of this activity are being planned. We will be happy to brief you on the results of this initiative when it has been completed." Senate Commerce Committee Can Spam Act Hearing May 20, 2004  The Testimony of Ms. Jana D. Monroe  Assistant Director, Cyber Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation
    • State Governments
      • Louisiana Rev. Stat. §73.6(B) (2003).
      • Rev. Washington Stat. §19.190.010-.050 (amended 1999).
      • Virginia’s anti-spam statute, Va. Code Ann. §18.2-152.3:1
    • International
  • The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email
  • Cyberpromotions
  • Composite Blocking List
  • Consumers Union
  • DB Origins of SPAM Weekly SPAM Analysis
  • Fight Spam on the Internet
  • Get that Spammer!
  • Institute for SPAM and Internet Public Policy
  • Internet Research Task Force (IETF & ISOC) Anti Spam WG
  • Monty Python SPAM Skit
  • My Net Watchman Detection of whether your computer has been compromised
  • National Fraud Information Center
  • Netizens Against Gratuitous Spamming (NAGS)
  • Not Just Another Bogus List
  • Paul Ruschmann Anti-SPAM Laws (good state material)
  • Quantum Communications, Inc.
  • Spam Media Tracker
  • Spam.Anti Page
  • Spamhaus
  • Sue
  • TCS Wireless SPAM Solutions
  • TISPA Spam Information Page
  • Yahoo! Mail, Be a Better Inbox Defender!
  • Books

    • Geoff Mulligan, Removing The SOAM: Email Processing and Filtering (1999)
    • Alan Schwartz and Simon Garfinkel, Stopping Spam (O'Reilly and Associates 1998)



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