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REVISED CODE OF WASHINGTON
TITLE 19. BUSINESS REGULATIONS -- MISCELLANEOUS
CHAPTER 19.190. COMMERCIAL ELECTRONIC MAIL
(as amended by 2003 Acts ch. 137 (H.B. 2007))

§ 19.190.010. Definitions

    The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.

    (1) "Assist the transmission" means actions taken by a person to provide substantial assistance or support which enables any person to formulate, compose, send, originate, initiate, or transmit a commercial electronic mail message or a commercial electronic text message when the person providing the assistance knows or consciously avoids knowing that the initiator of the commercial electronic mail message or the commercial electronic text message is engaged, or intends to engage, in any practice that violates the consumer protection act.

    (2) "Commercial electronic mail message" means an electronic mail message sent for the purpose of promoting real property, goods, or services for sale or lease. It does not mean an electronic mail message to which an interactive computer service provider has attached an advertisement in exchange for free use of an electronic mail account, when the sender has agreed to such an arrangement.

    (3) "Commercial electronic text message" means an electronic text message sent to promote real property, goods, or services for sale or lease.

    (4) "Electronic mail address" means a destination, commonly expressed as a string of characters, to which electronic mail may be sent or delivered.

    (5) "Electronic text message" means a text message sent to a cellular telephone or pager equipped with short message service or any similar capability, whether the message is initiated as a short message service message or as an electronic mail message.

    (6) "Initiate the transmission" refers to the action by the original sender of an electronic mail message or an electronic text message, not to the action by any intervening interactive computer service or wireless network that may handle or retransmit the message, unless such intervening interactive computer service assists in the transmission of an electronic mail message when it knows, or consciously avoids knowing, that the person initiating the transmission is engaged, or intends to engage, in any act or practice that violates the consumer protection act.

    (7) "Interactive computer service" means any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides access to the internet and such systems operated or services offered by libraries or educational institutions.

    (8) "Internet domain name" refers to a globally unique, hierarchical reference to an internet host or service, assigned through centralized internet naming authorities, comprising a series of character strings separated by periods, with the right-most string specifying the top of the hierarchy.

    (9) "Person" means a person, corporation, partnership, or association.


§ 19.190.020. Unsolicited or misleading electronic mail -- Prohibition

    (1) No person may initiate the transmission, conspire with another to initiate the transmission, or assist the transmission of a commercial electronic mail message from a computer located in Washington or to an electronic mail address that the sender knows, or has reason to know, is held by a Washington resident that:

    (a) Uses a third party's internet domain name without permission of the third party, or otherwise misrepresents or obscures any information in identifying the point of origin or the transmission path of a commercial electronic mail message; or

    (b) Contains false or misleading information in the subject line.

    (2) For purposes of this section, a person knows that the intended recipient of a commercial electronic mail message is a Washington resident if that information is available, upon request, from the registrant of the internet domain name contained in the recipient's electronic mail address.


§ 19.190.030. Unsolicited or misleading electronic mail -- Violation of consumer protection act

    (1) It is a violation of the consumer protection act, chapter 19.86 RCW, to conspire with another person to initiate the transmission or to initiate the transmission of a commercial electronic mail message that:

    (a) Uses a third party's internet domain name without permission of the third party, or otherwise misrepresents or obscures any information in identifying the point of origin or the transmission path of a commercial electronic mail message; or

    (b) Contains false or misleading information in the subject line.

    (2) It is a violation of the consumer protection act, chapter 19.86 RCW, to assist in the transmission of a commercial electronic mail message, when the person providing the assistance knows, or consciously avoids knowing, that the initiator of the commercial electronic mail message is engaged, or intends to engage, in any act or practice that violates the consumer protection act.

    (3) The legislature finds that the practices covered by this chapter are matters vitally affecting the public interest for the purpose of applying the consumer protection act, chapter 19.86 RCW. A violation of this chapter is not reasonable in relation to the development and preservation of business and is an unfair or deceptive act in trade or commerce and an unfair method of competition for the purpose of applying the consumer protection act, chapter 19.86 RCW.


§ 19.190.040. Violations -- Damages

    (1) Damages to the recipient of a commercial electronic mail message or a commercial electronic text message sent in violation of this chapter are five hundred dollars, or actual damages, whichever is greater.

    (2) Damages to an interactive computer service resulting from a violation of this chapter are one thousand dollars, or actual damages, whichever is greater.


§ 19.190.050. Blocking of commercial electronic mail by interactive computer service -- Immunity from liability

    (1) An interactive computer service may, upon its own initiative, block the receipt or transmission through its service of any commercial electronic mail that it reasonably believes is, or will be, sent in violation of this chapter.

    (2) No interactive computer service may be held liable for any action voluntarily taken in good faith to block the receipt or transmission through its service of any commercial electronic mail which it reasonably believes is, or will be, sent in violation of this chapter.


§ 19.190.060. Commercial electronic text message -- Prohibition on initiation or assistance -- Violation of consumer protection act

    (1) No person conducting business in the state may initiate or assist in the transmission of an electronic commercial text message to a telephone number assigned to a Washington resident for cellular telephone or pager service that is equipped with short message capability or any similar capability allowing the transmission of text messages.

    (2) The legislature finds that the practices covered by this section are matters vitally affecting the public interest for the purpose of applying the consumer protection act, chapter 19.86 RCW. A violation of this section is not reasonable in relation to the development and preservation of business and is an unfair or deceptive act in trade or commerce and an unfair method of competition for the purpose of applying the consumer protection act, chapter 19.86 RCW.


§ 19.190.070. Commercial electronic text message -- When allowed

    (1) It is not a violation of section 3 of this act if:

    (a) The commercial electronic text message is transmitted at the direction of a person offering cellular telephone or pager service to the person's existing subscriber at no cost to the subscriber unless the subscriber has indicated that he or she is not willing to receive further commercial text messages from the person; or

    (b) The unsolicited commercial electronic text message is transmitted by a person to a subscriber and the subscriber has clearly and affirmatively consented in advance to receive these text messages.

    (2) No person offering cellular or pager service may be held liable for serving merely as an intermediary between the sender and the recipient of a commercial electronic text message sent in violation of this chapter unless the person is assisting in the transmission of the commercial electronic text message.


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