From the December 2003 issue of Entrepreneur

Spam Slam
This holiday season, e-mail marketers should take their list and check it twice. Starting January 1, 2004, California has banned unsolicited commercial e-mail messages sent from the state or to any of its residents. As the country's most aggressive anti-spam measure, the law allows state residents to sue spammers for $1,000 per violation, up to $1 million.

"We now have a state law that makes compliance difficult," says J. Trevor Hughes, executive director of the Network Advertising Initiative, a trade group of e-mail marketing providers and tech companies. Hughes says 35 states have anti-spam legislations, most addressing phony return addresses and deceptive subject lines.

Businesses can still e-mail information to people who have requested it or to past customers. That's why Ed Patrick, 37, isn't worried. The founder of M4Internet, a San Mateo, California, provider of e-mail marketing services, says this law won't affect companies like his that use a two-step confirmation process for opt-in addresses. He advises businesses to be diligent about confirming opt-in addresses, providing opt-out mechanisms and removing opt-outs ASAP.



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82%
of all small companies do their business locally.
SOURCE: Quris Inc.


92%
of consumers delete e-mails without reading them; less than
5%
unsubscribe.
SOURCE: City Business Journals Network


Gwen Moran is a consultant and writer specializing in marketing. Reach her at moranmarketing@erols.com.