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Are There Too Many Compromises in New Spam Law
Douglas Chick

As we are into the New Year and the Can Spam Act of 2003 is in full affect, the flow of spam hasnít seemed to diminish by one Penis Enlargement ad, one Mortgage Rate Quote or one Get Out of Debt unsolicited e-mail. Iíve seen some reports from some anti-spam software companies that say spam has been reduced by 22%. This number could also be attributed to the holiday season, as spam usually slows during the holidays as even spammers take time-off. Or at least 22% of them do. It may also mean that the other 78% donít celebrate the same holidays. Holiday session or not, my inbox hasnít seen any reduction.

One explanation as to why the new law hasnít put a damper to spam is Can Spam Act of 2003 can only be enforced in the U.S. And as most people already know most spammers use mail engines outside the country. The government knew that too, right? The law to stop spam was a nice show that the government was listening to the people, but I wonder how enforceable Can Spam Act 2003 can be? 

Not everyone agrees with how the law was written, many people believe that there are too many obstacles and it gives the spammer the benefit of doubt or leaves the door open for many businesses to abuse your e-mail address. Ed Foster writes: 

ďI've been taking a look at the "CAN-SPAM" Act, and it is nothing but trouble. It's clear that only the Direct Marketing Association, Microsoft, AOL and a handful of others had any input into the law, because it's carefully crafted to allow the big marketers free reign. And the loopholes it provides them will be more than big enough to provide aid and comfort for the smallest and sleaziest of spammers as well.

Not only does the Can-Spam Act take an opt-out approach, meaning that each spammer can e-mail you until you ask them to stop, but it allows the spammer to dictate what steps you must take to get off their list. The recipient must opt-out "in a manner specified in the message" that can include replying to an opt-out email address or "other Internet-based mechanism." The spammer can also force the recipient to opt-out via "a list or menu from which the recipient may choose the specific types of commercial electronic mail messages the recipient wants to receive or does not want to receive from the sender" just as along as opting out from all e-mail from that sender is one of the choices.Ē

Certainly it seems that the government took a step forward in trying to either stop spam or address the many complaints sent to Congress. Whether Can Spam Act of 2003 was nothing more than ceremony just to stack more government pork projects beneath it or a serious attempt to put an end to spam, only time will tell.

Douglas Chick



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