California's anti-spam was killed in committee "at the behest of the California Internet Industry Alliance" -- and AOL is listed as a client of the alliance's lobbying firm.

Below is the press release explaining the incident issued by the bill's sponsor August 13....


SACRAMENTO - At the behest of the California Internet Industry Alliance, AB 1676 by Assemblywoman Debra Bowen (D-Torrance/Marina del Rey) was killed on a 4-6 vote today in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill sought to help consumers protect themselves against unsolicited junk e-mail, better known as "spam,"

"This vote does nothing but protect the advertisers and the Internet service providers (ISPs) who want to make money off of unsolicited e-mail at the expense of consumers," said Bowen. "The ISPs don't want to limit spam or to let computer users opt out of getting spam - they want to legitimize it so they can make money from the spammers who want to overwhelm people with ads for pornography and get-rich-quick schemes."

AB 1676 sought to require senders of unsolicited advertising e-mail to provide the receiver with a toll-free number or a valid e-mail address so that people can ask to stop receiving e-mail. Once a person asked to be removed from a sender's mailing list, the sender would be legally prohibited from forwarding unsolicited mail to the recipient again. The bill also would have required all spam to carry an "ADV" or "ADV:ADULT" label (the latter was in the case of spam that contained adult material).

"The label makes it easy for people who aren't technologically savvy to delete spam without opening it and, more importantly, it helps parents protect their children from spam that pushes sexually explicit websites," said Bowen. "Without a label, software filters are useless because spammers use misleading subject lines and misspell key words to slip past the filters. Obviously, the ISPs are more interested in making money than they are in providing parents with the ability to opt out of having unsolicited e-mailed dumped into their computers."

Opposition to AB 1676 was led by the California Internet Industry Alliance, which represents a number of ISPs that provide a majority of all Internet connectivity and electronic mail services, and as a result, profit from the proliferation of spam. AB 1676 was supported by Consumer Action, the Consumer Federation of California, the California Public Interest Research Group (Cal-PIRG), the California District Attorneys Association, and the Silicon Valley Software Industry Coalition.

"Contrary to the belief of the ISPs, advertisers shouldn't have the right to tie up computer systems and slow down business operations by spamming people to death," concluded Bowen. "We've taken away the right for advertisers to tie up your phone lines and burn through your fax paper by sending unsolicited faxes, and we ought to apply that same principal to spam and your e-mail account."

AB 1676 may be reconsidered by the Senate Appropriations Committee next week.