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BUSH SIGNS ANTI-SPAM BILL TO CURB E-MAIL FLOOD.

Byline: Evan Pondel Staff Writer

President George W. Bush signed an anti-spam bill Tuesday to curb unwanted e-mail from flooding the inboxes of more than 117 million Internet users throughout the nation.

The Can-Spam Act of 2003, which takes effect Jan. 1, imposes fines and prison terms on spammers who collect e-mail addresses from the Internet or use false information in the subject line to mislead recipients.

The president signed the bill amid mounting public disdain from Americans who have been inundated by embarrassing subject lines that range from explicit sexual messages to outrageous travel offers.

Executives from Time Warner Inc.'s America Online, EarthLink Inc. and eBay Inc. supported the bill. United Online Inc., a Westlake Village-based Internet service provider, said fighting spam is a constant battle for the company.

United's NetZero and Juno automated spam filters identify approximately 3 million pieces of possible spam per day. The company attempts to block spam by using automated mail analysis tools that scan for salacious or misleading e-mail.

``We do not currently make the dollar cost of (protecting against) spam available to the public ... but we are constantly working to enhance our spam fighting technologies to make our user experience even better,'' Elizabeth Gengl, a United Online spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Internet service providers have been fighting spam with software filters and lawsuits for several years. EarthLink won a $16.4 million judgment in May against Howard Carmack, known as the ``Buffalo Spammer.'' The company shut down his operation, which had generated more than 825 million spam e-mails.

The Vendare Group, a Sherman Oaks-based online marketing firm, would not return phone calls seeking comment about the spam bill. The company operates TrafficMarketplace, the Internet's largest advertising distribution network that sends messages to more than 70 million Internet users per month.

Vendare Group acquired TrafficMarketplace from Vivendi-Universal for an undisclosed amount in September.

``My concern is that this bill may affect those who send mass e-mails, not spam, to legitimate subscribers,'' said Richard Reed, owner and founder of a Las Vegas-based online marketing company.

Reed sends an ``informational guide'' about different cities to about 50,000 Internet users. He claims his guides are not spam because people have actually signed up to receive the e-mail. ``But Bush saying he's going to eliminate spam is like saying you've found a cure for cancer,'' Reed said. ``It's not any easy thing to do.''

The new law authorizes the Federal Trade Commission to establish a national do-not-spam registry, if it would be technologically feasible. The law also prohibits sending spam that falsifies the source, destination or routing information, while requiring commercial e-mail senders to include their physical address.

Cox News Service contributed to this report.

Evan Pondel, (818) 713-3662

evan.pondel(at)dailynews.com
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Dec 17, 2003
Words:460
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