Unwanted Pornographic E-Mail Invading Computers

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

Washington (CNSNews.com) - In response to consumer complaints by Internet users that they are being inundated with a flood of sexually explicit e-mail, or spam, a bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill has been launched to protect children from pornography.

Representatives Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Gary Miller (R-CA) are co-sponsoring HR 2162, or the "Can The Spam Act," which would restrict spam by allowing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to control the problem by giving them the right to sue "spammers" for up to $50 per message or $25,000 per day.

"It is time for the law to catch up with technology, especially in the case of spam where families and businesses are forced to receive large amounts of objectionable material over the Internet. This is an issue of consumer protection, privacy and private property," Miller told CNSNews.com.

Joining Miller and Holt in the battle against unwanted pornographic e-mail, especially that which ends up in the hands of children, are a number of conservative family focus groups including Concerned Women of America (CWA) and the National Law Center for Children and Families (NLC).

Spokespersons for both groups told CNSNew.com that one of the worst aspects of unsolicited pornographic e-mail is the duplicitous nature of the spam, which often arrives in home computers under the guise of a friendly greeting or an important message. Only after an unsuspecting child or parent opens the e-mail does the obscene material present itself.

"Many of the e-mails are very graphic in their description of the material offered at the advertised web site," said Bob Flores, vice president and senior counsel for NLC.

"Some of the e-mails go to the other extreme by using vague subject lines or misleading text to mask the true content of the web sites they advertise. This deceptive practice of veiling the true nature of a web site could cause some unsuspecting person to be confronted with the material they do not choose to view," Flores told CNSNews.com.

Through no fault of their own, said CWA spokeswoman Denesha Reid, innocent children, and those adults offended by explicit sexual images, are unfairly subjected to pornography and to what she said were its deleterious effects. "With no warning, the damage is done," Reid told CNSNews.com.

"Pornography devastates men, women and children," added Reid. "People who do not want explicit sexual material for either themselves or their children are being bombarded through e-mails."

By allowing ISPs to sue the senders of not only pornographic spam, but also junk mail such as get rich quick schemes and miracle cures, Holt said his "Can The Spam Act" would allow the marketplace to regulate itself without government interference or censorship.

"This market-based approach will restore sanity to the realm of unsolicited Internet e-mail," Holt told CNSNews.com. "Internet providers need to have the ability to protect themselves and their consumers."