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Governor Perdue Announces the Georgia Slam Spam E-mail Act

Wednesday, January 19, 2005  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Act Includes Criminal Penalties for Sending Fraudulent and Deceptive E-mail


ATLANTA, GA – Governor Sonny Perdue today visited EarthLink’s headquarters in Atlanta to announce one of his legislative initiatives for the 2005 General Assembly – the Georgia Slam Spam E-mail Act. Governor Perdue was joined by EarthLink President and Chief Executive Officer Garry Betty.

“The goal of the Georgia Slam Spam E-mail Act is to hold accountable those who abuse the Internet and harass our citizens with fraudulent, misleading and unwanted commercial e-mail. I’m proud to have the support of a leading Internet provider like EarthLink in this effort and to be partners in this fight,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “I urge the General Assembly to pass the Slam Spam Email Act so that Georgians can once again check their email without having to wade through a cesspool of spam. We’re going to clean up spam in Georgia and put our citizens back in control of their online lives.”

The Governor’s legislation provides serious penalties for the use of false or misleading practices, such as forging headers, using misleading subject headlines or falsely stating that the information in the e-mail was requested. Sending spam to Georgians will be punishable as a felony where spammers:

  • Send a high volume of spam, such as more than 10,000 messages in any 24 hour time period; or
  • Generate more than $1,000 in revenue from a single spam message or more than $50,000 from all spam transmitted to any single Internet Service Provider (ISP); or
  • Where the defendant knowingly uses a minor to assist in the transmission of spam.

Deceptive emails without these factors will be punished as a misdemeanor. Criminal penalties for a felony include a fine of not more than $50,000.00 or imprisonment of not more than five years, or both. For a misdemeanor, penalties include a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or imprisonment of not more than 12 months, or both.

This law will enable ISP’s, such as EarthLink, and domain-owners to bring charges against the spammers for fraudulent and deceptive e-mail, but the act does not limit or regulate in any way the sending of legitimate advertisements through e-mail.

The convenience and efficiency of e-mail are threatened by an increasing amount of deceptive commercial e-mails. The senders of these e-mails engage in a variety of fraudulent and deceptive practices to hide their identities, disguise the true source of their e-mails, and evade the consequences of their actions. Governor Perdue believes the state of Georgia has a paramount interest in protecting its businesses and citizens from the burden of deceptive commercial e-mails, including the economic burden that results from the false and fraudulent nature of deceptive commercial e-mail.

EarthLink has adopted a three-pronged approach to online protection: litigation, legislation and technological innovation – creating tools to protect consumers against intrusions like spam, phishing and spyware, while legally pursuing spammers and supporting key legislation that will help stem the tide of spam.

“The Governor’s initiative gives EarthLink and other businesses throughout Georgia an important new tool for shutting down rogue, spam e-mailers,” said Garry Betty, EarthLink president and chief executive officer. “This proposed legislation highlights the Governor’s commitment to protecting Internet users against fraudulent, deceitful and unwanted e-mails. Internet protection proposals like Governor Perdue’s are a key component in fighting online fraud and letting cyber criminals know that they will face severe penalties if they continue to send deceptive commercial e-mails.”

As part of the company’s multi-faceted approach to protecting consumers against all forms of cyber crime, EarthLink has been active in legislation, having advocated strongly at the federal level for passage of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. EarthLink has worked extensively with government agencies and law enforcement, including the FBI and FTC, to fight back against cyber crime and to educate Internet users everywhere about threats to online security.