TRENTON – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph Coniglio that would crack down on unwanted commercial electronic messages, or “spam.” by expanding the federal CAN SPAM Act of 2003.
“Spammers are constantly developing new ways to get around spam filters and blockers, often committing fraud or theft to get their messages through,” said Senator Coniglio, D-Bergen. “We need to stay ahead of the spammers in order to protect the efficiency and security of the Internet.”
The Senator’s bill, S-1129, known as the “New Jersey Can Spam Act”, bill would establish both criminal and civil penalties for those activities often involved in the widespread distribution of spam e-mail messages.
Among those acts to be prohibited under the bill are using a computer located in New Jersey to relay or retransmit multiple commercial spam messages with the intent to mislead recipients or service providers as to the origin of the messages, registering for multiple e-mail addresses or domain names with false information to transmit spam, or accessing another computer without authorization and using it to transmit multiple spam emails.
“The current penalties levied against spammers aren’t effective. With this bill we’re moving beyond a slap on the wrist to considerable fines and time in prison that will force these criminals to think twice before running these schemess,” added Senator Coniglio.
All violations of the bill would be at least a fourth degree fine with a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $1000 fine per violation. For those spammers committing larger numbers of violations, they would be charged with a third degree crime with a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If violations involve a felony or a repeat offense, then the charge would be a crime of the second degree with a penalty to up to 10 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
The bill would also authorize the Attorney General, or internet service provider to commence a civil action against a violator within two years of the violation. In an action brought by the Attorney General, the bill would authorize the court to award appropriate relief, including injunctive relief and a civil penalty of not more than $25,000 per day, or between $2 to $8 per commercial electronic mail message initiated in violation of the bill.
The bill was approved by a vote of 37-0 and now goes to the Assembly for their consideration.