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Lawmakers pass anti-spam bill

April 14, 2004

ANNAPOLIS (AP) - Maryland lawmakers approved a bill in the waning hours of the 2004 General Assembly session that one of the country's largest Internet service providers describes as a strong, comprehensive bill to prevnt junk e-mail.

"What is does is crack down on fraudulent and deceptive practices that kingpin spammers use that are designed to defeat attempts by Internet service providers that block spam from coming in," Delegate Neil Quinter said Tuesday, just hours after his bill was approved by the legislature.

Quinter's bill and an identical Senate bill also passed just before the session ended at midnight Monday would, if signed by Gov. Robert Ehrlich, allow outlaw spammers to be sentenced to terms of up to 10 years in prison. It also provides for fines up to $25,000, and allows personal assets of spammers to be confiscated.

Quinter said the Maryland bill was patterned after a federal law signed by President Bush in December and a Virginia law that Gov. Mark Warner signed a year ago. Quinter said he and Senate sponsor Rob Garagiola conferred with lawmakers working on similar legislation in Minnesota, New Jersey and Ohio.

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The Maryland bill would make it illegal for people who send unsolicited e-mail to disguise their identities by using false return addresses or misleading subject lines. It also would prohibit spammers from harvesting addresses from Web sites.

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