UIC John Marshall Journal of Information Technology & Privacy Law


The recipe for success to combat unsolicited and unwanted e-mail, otherwise known as spam, has not yet been formulated by the thirty-six states that have tried by enacting their own versions of anti-spam laws. Only two state prosecutions were ever successfully brought against spammers, and only one was able to enforce its law against an out-of-state spammer. Now, on the federal level, with the passing of the CAN-SPAM act, which essentially rehashes what states have attempted to do, the failure to provide any significant measure of national success against spam seems likely. However, a careful reading of the language of CAN-SPAM may provide some leeway for states to continue to experiment with different methods that may ultimately prove to allow for more successful prosecution against spammers. This article examines the laws' various provisions in an attempt to clarify why the various anti-spam laws enacted by the states, and now the federal government, did not bring about the hoped-for results of successful prosecution against spammers. It suggests a new approach to anti-spam law, a Children’s Protection Registry. Instead of taking a general approach, the proposal targets the worst effects of spam. This proposal will circumvent the problems that first-generation spam laws faced and promises more regular and successful enforcement.