Software // Enterprise Applications
Commentary
6/20/2003
11:50 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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IT Confidential: Spam Plan: Which Side Are You On?

Microsoft and other ISPs don't want to ban spam, Sen. Bowen says

Is Microsoft against spam or not? Just as a news conference announcing 15 spam-fighting lawsuits brought by Microsoft was unfolding in Redmond and London last week, company reps were at a hearing before the California Assembly's Business and Professions Committee attempting to have language softened in a bill that would create one of the strongest anti-spam laws to date. The California bill, authored by state Sen. Debra Bowen, would require E-mail senders to get opt-ins from recipients unless they have an existing business relationship. It also would enable consumers to seek damages of up to $500 for every illegal spam message they receive. A Microsoft spokesman says the bill's provision permitting consumer lawsuits would put an unfair financial burden on legitimate E-mail marketers, and its three-year window on what constitutes an existing business relationship is too short a time period. Bowen's bill defines spam as any unsolicited commercial E-mail, and Brad Smith, Microsoft's senior VP and general counsel, may have had that in mind when he suggested during the Redmond press conference that banning all forms of unsolicited commercial E-mail would be going too far: "I don't think we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater just because there's a lot of bathwater here."

Speaking of bathwater, United Airlines and Verizon Airfone said last week that United would be the first commercial carrier to offer two-way E-mail capability on its domestic flights. Customers will access the JetConnect E-mail service by plugging their laptops into jacks on the Verizon Airfone handsets installed in seatbacks. The JetConnect E-mail service will be available to North American frequent business travelers who use POP3, Microsoft Exchange via Outlook Web access, and Lotus Notes via POP. Additional ISPs will be supported later in the year.

NuTech Solutions, a developer of business-analytics software, said last week that Zbigniew Brzezinski had joined the company as board adviser on international affairs. As national security adviser, Brzezinski was the bad cop to President Jimmy Carter's good cop back in the late 1970s. Brzezinski is now a counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and professor of American Foreign Policy at Johns Hopkins University.

The irrepressible Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, is sponsoring an early screening this week in San Francisco of the third installment in the Terminator series of movies, Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, as a coming-out party for the latest version of his company's hosted CRM software. On hand will be none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, who is widely rumored to be mulling a run for the California governorship in an anticipated upcoming special election.

Governor of California? The phrase "be careful what you wish for" comes to mind--but if anybody can handle overpopulation, a bad economy, power outages, raging fires, and racial tension, I guess the Terminator can. I could handle an industry tip, to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about E-mail, spam, or California's problems, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post.

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