AB 567 and the dissent of Assemblyperson Haynes

On May 10, 2003, I read with interest a story about AB 567, an anti-spam bill for California that would create an opportunity to fine spammers for the load they put on companies and consumers.  I wrote the following letter to the single opposing voter, Assemblyman Haynes:


I disagree with your stance on AB 567.  I am glad that you do not
represent my district, but I hope you reconsider your stance on this issue
in the future.

The problem with unsolicited commercial email is that unlike every other
method of advertisement, it puts the burden and cost of delivery on the
receiver.  Many people still pay hourly or per-kilobyte rates to retrieve
data from the internet.  Spammers are forcing them to pay to receive the
unwanted mail, and understand, you MUST receive the mail before you can
delete it.

If, on the other hand, you also support businesses sending physical
advertisements to citizens with postage due, then perhaps your opposition
is in character, but I am certain that if you understood the issue better,

you would reconsider.

I wish you luck with your future endeavors and that you will take another
look at this issue.  Your constituents will thank you.

Best regards,

Ben Hallert
Culver City, CA
On July 22, 2003, I received this response:
From:  Assemblymember Haynes   [ Save address ]  
To:  "'ben@vipmail.com'"   
Subject:  RE: Republican Website - Concern Form 90230  
Date:  Mon, 21 Jul 2003 13:37:48 -0700  
Thank you for your recent email opposing spam.  I certainly understand your
frustration, and your grasping at any straw that looks like it might promise
relief.  You want AB 567 passed because you believe that will stop the
problem.  We have a number of anti-spam laws on the books already, but they
haven't stopped spam.  If AB 567 would actually solve the problem that would
be a different issue and I would not have voted against it.  AB 567 allows
individuals to sue the SENDER for up to $1,000 for each unsolicited ad. It
also allows service providers to recover $100 worth of damages for each
piece of unsolicited mail that goes through their facilities.  Which would
be great if it would work, but it won't.  It will give lawyers another
avenue to make money, but it won't stop the emails.  Spammers are adept at
hiding, and it is nearly impossible to hunt them down, so how do you locate
them to sue them?  The majority of the SPAM is generated outside California,

and in most cases outside the United States.  If the spammer is not located
in California it is not subject to California laws, so a suit is worthless.
How do you sue someone in another country over a piece of email, when that
country doesn't have any regulations regarding this issue?  This bill also
puts the entire burden of discovering the spammer completely on your back as
a recipient.  All the penalties in the world won't change anything if the
spammer is outside the jurisdiction of the law.  But there is a simple
solution.  There is a great deal of spam-ware out there that will prevent
you from receiving stuff you don't want.  A $25 to $50 investment in
software sounds like a better bet than passing a law that allows a
California attorney to collect thousands of dollars from his clients to try
to stop a spammer outside the US.

Assemblyman Ray Haynes
I understand his stance but continue to disagree. I post this response for anyone who is researching the subject. Ben Hallert 7/22/03