Lawmakers Consider Effort to Crack Down on Spam E-mail

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If you use e-mail, you’re probably used to sorting through dozens if not hundreds of spam e-mails a day to get to the e-mail you really want.

Lawmakers in Tallahassee are considering a new measure that could throw spammers in jail for sending you unsolicited e-mails.

But some question whether all the recent get-tough tactics really have any affect at all.

If your e-mail in-box looks anything like a lot of people’s, it’s got more spam e-mails than messages you want, solicitations from credit card companies, free trips to Disneyland, buy this drug, pump up your love life, spams you can’t even decipher.

Rep. Ari Porth says he didn’t have to look far for the motivation to file his bill cracking down on spammers.

“My own inbox, when I get to work every morning, it’s flooded with stuff I didn’t ask for. Very often it’s stuff that’s scary to read.”

Sometimes those spams ask for money or personal information, and sometimes people actually give it to the tune of more than a billion dollars of fraud a year in the U.S.

Florida lawmakers passed a bill two years ago that was supposed to fine the spammers who send out thousands of junk e-mails to unsuspecting computer users. This year’s version would actually slap spammers who break the rules with up to five years in prison.

But there’s already federal legislation that carries the threat of prison time for spammers who flaunt the rules, and still the spams keep coming.

Rep. Gus Barreiro voted against this latest anti-spam measure in committee because he just doesn’t think it will do anything.

“To criminalize that, I think, it’s just, it sounds great on paper, but to actually put it in practical uses I think is going to be very difficult.“

But spam-haters hope the threat of doing time in a state pen will finally make spammers think twice, and maybe you’ll only get a few hundred spams a week instead of a thousand.

The Slam Spam Bill (HB 45) would also crack down on the crime of “phishing,” which is the use of a fake e-mail or fake Web site to get people to reveal personal identifying information. It would let people harmed by “phishing” sue for damages and attorneys fees.

The bill passed a House committee unanimously Monday. It has one more committee to clear before heading to the full House for a vote.