HB 1282 was introduced by Rep.
McCall of Plano, TX. The bill has several key provisions. It outlaws header forgery. It requires that spammers place an ADV: subject label in their messages. It mandates spammers provide an opt-out address to stop the spam. It creates a private right of action, which means victims can go to small claims court and sue for damages.
The problem is the bill was written with the assistance of companies that have just as much interest in marketing as they do email services, such as AOL and Microsoft. Wherever they saw a provision that presented risk to their marketing operation, they watered it down or cut it out. In the end, they created significant protections for spammers while doing little for email recipients or service providers.
For instance, the bill provides what I call a 90-day "license to spam." Under the bill, the spam recipient has a right to request opt-out from
further mailings. The bill, however, allows the spammer up to 90 days to process that request. That's not protecting email users, that's giving cover to ruthless spammers. Under this bill, spammers are allowed to harass their victims three months after they say, "Stop!" I predict spammers will setup shop, spam away, ignore opt-outs, and when the three months are over close the doors and transfer assets to a new company.
This, of course, is foolish. If the law is going to grant spammers a right to run opt-out operations in Texas, the least it can do is compel
them to use an automated unsubscribe process. Federal law requires that telemarketers honor your "Do not call!" request immediately. Why shouldn't we demand the same of spammers?
In addition to foolish protections for spammers, the law creates significant barriers to discourage anybody from bringing suit against
a spammer. Under the provisions of this bill, you can file suit against a spammer, haul them into court, prove your case, and win a judgment.
The problem is the amount of damages you'll get to collect will be about ten bucks--less than your out-of-pocket expense for filing a small claims action.
As if laughable penalties weren't enough disincentive, the bill requires that you report your action against a spammer to the State
Attorney General office. No other spam law in the nation puts up these sorts of bureaucratic barriers. But it gets better! If, in your
excitement over collecting ten dollars from a spammer, you forget to file notice, you are now liable to the state for a $200 penalty.
This bill is a travesty and an insult to Internet users. If it passes, Texas could become the spam capital of our nation. Spammers will
flock to our great state, hoping to avail themselves of these protections. I know Texas fancies itself as being good for business, but there are just some businesses we don't want.