California Email Law Fails

California Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Monterrey Park) has drawn a lot of attention this year.  The former IBM and Unisys computer engineer turned lawyer was the lead sponsor of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CaCPA).

chau balsam.JPG

Assemblyman Chau and Dan Balsam (left)

He also was the author of AB 2546 a bill that would substantially rewrite California’s existing anti-spam law, which apparently was being pushed by anti-spam lawyer Dan Balsam.  With Balsam and Chau misleadingly pitching the bill as minor technical amendments, it easily won approval from Chau’s Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection and passed the Assembly on May 31st.


The Internet Law Center was part of a coalition working to defeat what was a badly flawed bill.  After testifying before the Senate Business & Professions Committee and lobbying key Senators, Chau dropped a number of controversial provisions.  The Internet Law Center also helped mobilize the California Lawyers Association IP Section and Internet and Privacy Law Committee of the Business Law Section to come out in opposition to the bill.  As a result, Chau dropped most of the remaining objectionable provisions before winning Senate passage on August 23rd.

As passed by the Senate, the bill would

  • expand the definition of commercial email advertisements;
  • prohibit the unauthorized use of a third-party domain or email address;
  • prohibit the use of a false postal address or false unsubscribe link;
  • permit enforcement by district or city attorneys;
  • make clear that a recipient is not required to opt-out to sue;
  • permit a court to enjoin violations; and
  • require that defendants seeking to reduce damages to $100 per incident demonstrate it has “established and implemented, in good faith and with due care, practices and procedures reasonably designed to effectively prevent unsolicited commercial email advertisements”.

With the bill only needing a vote of the Assembly to approve the Senate amendments in the final week of the session to be sent to Governor Brown for signature, Assembly Chau pulled the bill from further consideration.   The legislature adjourned on August 31st.