The Legislature hereby finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Roughly 40 percent of all e-mail traffic in the United States is comprised of unsolicited commercial e-mail advertisements (hereafter spam) and industry experts predict that by the end of 2003 half of all e-mail traffic will be comprised of spam.
(b) The increase in spam is not only an annoyance but is also an increasing drain on corporate budgets and possibly a threat
to the continued usefulness of the most successful tool of the computer age.
(c) Complaints from irate business and home-computer users regarding spam have skyrocketed, and polls have reported that 74 percent of respondents favor making mass spamming illegal and only 12 percent are opposed, and that 80 percent of respondents consider spam very annoying.
(d) According to Ferris Research Inc., a San Francisco consulting group, spam will cost United States organizations more than ten billion dollars ($10,000,000,000) this year, including lost productivity and the additional equipment, software, and manpower needed to combat the problem. California is 12 percent of the United States population with an emphasis on technology business, and it is therefore estimated that spam costs California organizations well over 1.2 billion dollars ($1,200,000,000).
(e) Like junk faxes, spam imposes a cost on users, using up valuable storage space in e-mail inboxes, as well as costly computer band width, and on networks and the computer servers that power them, and discourages people from using e-mail.
(f) Spam filters have not proven effective.
(g) Like traditional paper “junk” mail, spam can be annoying and waste time, but it also causes many additional problems because it is easy and inexpensive to create, but difficult and costly to eliminate.
(h) The “cost shifting” from deceptive spammers to Internet business and e-mail users has been likened to sending junk mail with postage due or making telemarketing calls to someone’s pay-per-minute cellular phone.
(i) Many spammers have become so adept at masking their tracks that they are rarely found, and are so technologically sophisticated that they can adjust their systems to counter special filters and other barriers against spam and can even electronically commandeer unprotected computers, turning them into spam-launching weapons of mass production.
(j) There is a need to regulate the advertisers who use spam, as well as the actual spammers, because the actual spammers can be difficult to track down due to some return addresses that show up on the display as “unknown” and many others being obvious fakes and they are often located offshore.
(k) The true beneficiaries of spam are the advertisers who benefit from the marketing derived from the advertisements.
(l) In addition, spam is responsible for
virus proliferation that can cause tremendous damage both to individual computers and to business systems.
(m) Because of the above problems, it is necessary that spam be prohibited and that commercial advertising e-mails be regulated as set forth in this article.