Senate Cans Spam by 97 Votes to Nil

23 October 2003

By ninety-seven votes to nil - allowing for three absences - the US Senate last night (Wednesday) approved legislation outlawing spam.

Bad news for some marketers, not least the speed with which the Senate wants the legislation put in place. In an addendum proposed by Senator Charles Schumer (Democrat, New York), the Federal Trade Commission is instructed to draw-up a proposal for a 'do not spam' register within six months of the bill's enactment - or explain to the Senate why it has not done so.

But across the hill in the House of Representatives, the spam issue is generating more words than action with members still squabbling over the proposals. With not even the draft of an outline bill in sight, onlookers are hoping that the Senate's swift competence will shame the House into action.

"Spam is out of control," said Senator Schumer. Under the Senate legislation, he explained, commercial emailers will be required to provide their lists to the FTC so they can be checked against the register. And the restrictions go further than the FTC's 'do not call' list which covers only calls to consumers. The spam ban will also cover B2B emails.

The Direct Marketing Association in New York bit the bullet, saying it still supports the legislation. But it challenges the need for a new 'do not spam' list. Spammers who currently violate the law are be unlikely to abide by the list, the DMA argues.

Schumer does not disagree. "It is not a perfect solution … but it is better than what we have now."

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff