Last night California Governor (at least for now) Gray Davis signed the toughest U.S. anti-spam law to date, SB 186, to go into effect January 1st, 2004. Two aspects make it a tough law: 1. It is an "opt-in" law. It requires e-mail marketers to have an existing business relationship with the recipient or to have received prior permission from the recipient before sending a commercial e-mail. 2. It allows enforcement against advertisers (the companies selling the products), not just the marketers (the companies sending the spam). It allows the state, ISPs, or individual citizens to sue these advertisers and marketers in civil court, with fines of up to $1,000 per unsolicited message and up to $1,000,000 for each mass-mailing campaign. I got my info from the Los Angeles Times, for which you need a free registration to read articles online, but there are plenty of other online articles about this law too: link link link link Plenty of spammers work from overseas, but the L.A. Times quotes Kevin Murray, the state senator who introduced the bill, as saying that since virtually all online transactions involve the use of four internationally recognized credit card companies based in the U.S., it would be relatively easy to locate the offender's bank accounts and attach them for the amount of the fine owed. Maybe by stopping the money flow to companies selling products via spam, some of the spam flood may be reduced. I'm guardedly optimistic, and I hope this becomes a model for a federal law.