Work hard for your spam bust

Consumers do all the donkey work in opt-out offer

The Direct Marketing Association has just christened a new website where consumers can register their email addresses to be removed from DMA member-company spam lists. The service, called e-Mail Preference Service (e-MPS), is free to consumers.

The registration is straightforward, leaving consumers with the option of blocking all spam, or volunteering to receive business-to-business or business-to-consumer mailings.

Registrants must renew their request annually, but there is an option for automatic notification when the subscription is about to expire.

Marketers wishing to participate are invited to send their victim-lists electronically to e-MPS. All email addresses registered with e-MPS will then be removed from the marketer's list, and a "cleaned" list returned electronically. The service is mandatory for DMA member companies. It is also available to non-members for the modest sum of US$100 per year.

Critics have already begun to point out numerous deficiencies in the DMA's spam-busting strategy. First among them is the way it shifts responsibility from marketers to consumers. Another shortcoming is the fact that the most objectionable and relentless spam comes not from DMA member companies but from myriad operators peddling retro come-ons for porn and sure-fire lottery scams and work-from-home schemes and email consultations with psychics.

Many see the DMA effort as little more than window dressing meant to reassure government regulators that the spam problem is being handled, when in fact there is little short of imposing stiff criminal penalties that can be done to eliminate it. ®

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