World Ebusiness Law Report

November 14 2002 - USA Hall Dickler Kent Goldstein & Wood LLP

Maryland becomes newest state to enact anti-spam law

Maryland's new anti-spam law has come into effect. The law prohibits unsolicited commercial email that deliberately hides the sender's identity by:

  • using a false or misleading subject line;
  • using a third party's domain name without permission; or
  • falsifying routing information.

    In addition to focusing on misleading subject lines, it prohibits the practice of hijacking a domain name or email address of an unsuspecting third party to send spam. It also punishes "false or misleading information about the origin or the transmission path of the commercial electronic mail." To be found guilty, it must be proved that the spammer knew, or should have known, that the recipient was a resident of Maryland. Spammers may be liable for up to $500 to parties whose domain names or email addresses are used without authorization, and up to $1,000 to internet service providers. Reasonable attorneys' fees may also be payable. Maryland joins the majority of states with anti-spam laws that are largely impractical. While they may be used to attack isolated instances of illegal spam, spamming is so globally prevalent that state laws are about as effective in stopping spam as municipal laws are in stopping jaywalking.

    Douglas Wood and Linda Goldstein, Hall Dickler Kent Goldstein & Wood LLP, New York