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Good fight against junk e-mail

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Is there anybody with an e-mail address who hasn't at one point wished he or she could grab those responsible for sending junk mail by the throat?

Well, Utah Rep. Patrice Arent, D-South Cottonwood, will attempt to grab them by the wallet via an e-mail protection bill. She needs to be supported in her action, regardless of how difficult it may be to enforce the penalizing provisions of her legislation.

Arent's bill, HB80, would force people who send unsolicited advertisements to identify themselves and to take those off their lists who request it. Failure to do so would result in monetary damages.

For far too long, "spammers," as people who send unwelcome, unwanted and unsolicited e-mail are known, have had a free ride. Many disguise their content, which, when opened, may not only be unwanted but highly offensive.

What Arent wants to do is require anyone who sends an unsolicited commercial e-mail either from Utah or to anyone in Utah to place "ADV": at the beginning of the subject line, thereby alerting the recipient that the e-mail is an advertisement.

In addition, the e-mail would have to provide a legal name, a correct address and a valid Internet domain name.

The recipient or e-mail service provider used to unlawfully pass through e-mail could recover actual damages up to $25,000 a day, plus reasonable attorneys' fees, when violations occur.

Arent realizes that trying to get legal names and legal street addresses from those who deal in junk e-mail will be difficult. However, she's right to pursue efforts to try to do so.

Her effort, as she notes, is a start. Utah is not the first state to pursue e-mail legislation. Arent has patterned her bill in part on one that passed in Washington state that has been upheld in court challenges.

Spamming is a national nuisance. One of the reasons Arent is pushing state legislation is because the federal government as yet hasn't taken any action against unwanted e-mail. She is hopeful that as Utah and other states address the issue, Congress will take notice and decide it needs to do something about spamming at the national level.

Until that occurs, state legislation like that being proposed by Arent is needed.