15 U.S.C. § 7701 - U.S. Code - Unannotated Title 15. Commerce and Trade § 7701. Congressional findings and policy


The Congress finds the following:

 Electronic mail has become an extremely important and popular means of communication, relied on by millions of Americans on a daily basis for personal and commercial purposes.  Its low cost and global reach make it extremely convenient and efficient, and offer unique opportunities for the development and growth of frictionless commerce.

 The convenience and efficiency of electronic mail are threatened by the extremely rapid growth in the volume of unsolicited commercial electronic mail.  Unsolicited commercial electronic mail is currently estimated to account for over half of all electronic mail traffic, up from an estimated 7 percent in 2001, and the volume continues to rise.  Most of these messages are fraudulent or deceptive in one or more respects.

 The receipt of unsolicited commercial electronic mail may result in costs to recipients who cannot refuse to accept such mail and who incur costs for the storage of such mail, or for the time spent accessing, reviewing, and discarding such mail, or for both.

 The receipt of a large number of unwanted messages also decreases the convenience of electronic mail and creates a risk that wanted electronic mail messages, both commercial and noncommercial, will be lost, overlooked, or discarded amidst the larger volume of unwanted messages, thus reducing the reliability and usefulness of electronic mail to the recipient.

 Some commercial electronic mail contains material that many recipients may consider vulgar or pornographic in nature.

 The growth in unsolicited commercial electronic mail imposes significant monetary costs on providers of Internet access services, businesses, and educational and nonprofit institutions that carry and receive such mail, as there is a finite volume of mail that such providers, businesses, and institutions can handle without further investment in infrastructure.

 Many senders of unsolicited commercial electronic mail purposefully disguise the source of such mail.

 Many senders of unsolicited commercial electronic mail purposefully include misleading information in the messages' subject lines in order to induce the recipients to view the messages.

 While some senders of commercial electronic mail messages provide simple and reliable ways for recipients to reject (or “opt-out” of) receipt of commercial electronic mail from such senders in the future, other senders provide no such “opt-out” mechanism, or refuse to honor the requests of recipients not to receive electronic mail from such senders in the future, or both.

 Many senders of bulk unsolicited commercial electronic mail use computer programs to gather large numbers of electronic mail addresses on an automated basis from Internet websites or online services where users must post their addresses in order to make full use of the website or service.

 Many States have enacted legislation intended to regulate or reduce unsolicited commercial electronic mail, but these statutes impose different standards and requirements.  As a result, they do not appear to have been successful in addressing the problems associated with unsolicited commercial electronic mail, in part because, since an electronic mail address does not specify a geographic location, it can be extremely difficult for law-abiding businesses to know with which of these disparate statutes they are required to comply.

 The problems associated with the rapid growth and abuse of unsolicited commercial electronic mail cannot be solved by Federal legislation alone.  The development and adoption of technological approaches and the pursuit of cooperative efforts with other countries will be necessary as well.

Congressional determination of public policy

On the basis of the findings in subsection (a) of this section, the Congress determines that--

 there is a substantial government interest in regulation of commercial electronic mail on a nationwide basis;

 senders of commercial electronic mail should not mislead recipients as to the source or content of such mail;  and

 recipients of commercial electronic mail have a right to decline to receive additional commercial electronic mail from the same source.

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