Meeting to Approve New Electronic Communications Policy: Meeting before the Committee on House Administration, House of Representatives, One Hundred Eighth Congress, First Session, September 5, 2003   [open pdf - 176KB]

The changing state of communication, particularly in the realm of electronic correspondence and e-mail, has urged new legislation from Washington and posed the question as to the legal boundaries of such items. To understand the rationale for the proposed change it is important to understand the history behind our current policy. Public Law 97-69, which passed in the 97th Congress, contained a provision prohibiting unsolicited mass mailings which are defined by the franking guidelines as mass mailings containing 500 or more pieces of substantially identical contents. If one receives a thousand letters in for guns or against guns, whatever the issue is, those would be recognized as solicited mailings, but the 500 or more pieces of substantially identical content are mailings that are sent out, and it is unsolicited. There is no doubt that web pages and e-mails have greatly enhanced the ability of people in this country and around the world to communicate their points of view, but it also raises a issues begging the question of how these new mediums should be regulated.

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