SB 425 – Questions being asked

A heated exchange took place between the lobbyist for Unspam and the chair of the subcommittee hearing SB 425.  The conversation can be summed up by stating that the lobbyist accused the chair of being beholden to big business and the pornography industry.

The lobbyist is a member of the Christian Coalition.  SB 425 is a bill being promoted in multiple states across the country.  If you are against the bill, you are for pornographers.  Funny thing, if you limit the bill to controlling access to pornography, which is what the subcommittee chair was attempting to do, then the supporters don't want the bill.  Could it be that the business supporting SB 425 is more interested in increasing profits than protecting children?  That question was precisely the charge the subcommittee chair returned to the lobbyist.

When you examine the bill in detail you find it is a horrible bill.  First, the definition of communications to be regulated were extremely broad — so broad as to include "catch all" line to catch any message promoting material that a minor cannot purchase.  Now the penalty for sending such a message (e.g. an invitation to a wine tasting is such a message) was 1-5 years in the slammer — and a 200,000 dollar fine.

So, what would honest business people do?  Well, if they want to send email, they would then be forced to pay a "tax" to a vendor (and since the bill has specific requirements and deadlines that only allows a few vendors, namely one, able to comply so Unspam is the vendor) on a monthly basis for that vendor to identify individuals on the honest business person's list that did not want to receive the mailing.  Now, the vendor was not required to measure how effective the service was in reducing such unwanted mail.  The vendor was not required to advertise the existence of the list.  And the vendor was not required to mount an advertising campaign to let the business community know of the limitations of the service and why they had to pay the tax to avoid felonies and civil lawsuits.

In short, the state, in Neil Boortz's words, would hold a gun to your head, telling you to pay this service to certify your list as "clean". 

Meanwhile, dishonest companies would make sure that their servers were located offshore.

Another question being asked in the halls — how did such a bill get 56 Senators to sign?  The answer — who would vote against a bill entitled "The Georgia Child, Family, and School Communications Protection Act".  Perhaps next time the Senators will read past the title.

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