Over on Politech, Declan McCullagh has a press release on Big Internet’s ambivalent relationship with spam.
It appears that Microsoft, AOL, and Yahoo teamed up to block a California anti-spam law, according to a press release from the office of the bill’s author, CA Senator Debra Bowen:
Backed by Microsoft, America Online (AOL) and Yahoo!, the Assembly Business & Professions Committee today refused to permit a vote on SB 12 by California State Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), a bill that sought to create the country’s toughest anti-spam law by requiring advertisers to get permission from computer users before sending them unsolicited ads.
Today in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft announced it filed 13 civil suits against U.S. spammers for sending unwanted, deceptive, commercial e-mail to Microsoft customers. Meanwhile, at that same time, Microsoft was testifying in Sacramento, California, before the Assembly Business & Professions Committee against Senator Bowen’s bill, that would have banned spam and created an “opt-in” system for sending unsolicited commercial e-mail. If enacted, it would be the strongest anti-spam bill in the country, but Microsoft opposed it because it would have required businesses to get permission before sending e-mail ads (a concept known as “opt-in”) and would have allowed individual e-mail spam victims to sue spammers for $500 per spam.
“Microsoft, AOL, and Yahoo! sit in committee with a straight face, saying they’re trying to improve the bill, while at the same time they’re back in Washington, pushing measures to wipe out this bill and every single anti-spam law that states have adopted over the past half-dozen years,” continued Bowen. “Why? Because they don’t want to ban spam, they want to license it and make money from spammers by deciding what’s ‘legitimate’ or ‘acceptable’ unsolicited commercial advertising, then charging those advertisers a fee to wheel their spam into your e-mail inbox without your permission.”
Bowen is a pretty damn trustworthy legislator, who has historically been on the right side of privacy issues.
(edited to correct missed word in Bowen’s description)