CAN-SPAM means we can spam

'No effect' on junk mail

A miniscule proportion of unsolicited commercial email complies with US Federal anti-spam laws introduced this month, according to a survey published yesterday.

Email security firm MX Logic found that of a random sample of over 1,000 unsolicited commercial emails received during the first week this year only THREE of the messages complied with the CAN-SPAM Act. The CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act went into effect on January 1.

"Calling this a high rate of non-compliance would be a gross understatement," said Scott Chasin, MX Logic’s chief technology officer. "It is no surprise that rogue spammers would fail to comply, but the non-compliant messages we saw appeared to be from all types of companies.

“There appears to be an unstated, unofficial grace period for companies to comply, but if this high level of illegal spam continues, I think it will be interesting to see how enforcement of the new legislation will unfold."

MX Logic notes that companies have had little time to digest the new law, signed onto the statute book by President Bush on December 16, let alone bring their marketing practices in line with the new legislation. That's a more forgiving line than other critics such as anti-spam group Spamhaus which argues that the US laws will make the spam problem even worse.

The CAN-SPAM Act set up an opt-out regime for the regulation of commercial email. The Act contains the following provisions:

  • Permissions for certain forms of unsolicited commercial email as long as it is clearly marked as an advertisement and allows consumers to unsubscribe from future unsolicited commercial email from the sender.
  • Prohibition of sending commercial email containing sexually oriented material unless labelled as such.
  • The Outlawing of the use of false email headers or the use of a mail server or open relay to deceive recipients about the origin of a commercial email message.
  • Allows the FTC, state attorneys general and Internet providers (but not the public) to sue companies who violate the law.
  • Provision for the establishment by the FTC of a "Do-Not-SPAM" registry.

    More than fifty per cent of Internet email is spam creating problems of lost productivity, communication bandwidth consumption, increased storage costs, IT resource drain and increased corporate liability.

    Legislation needs to be supplemented with robust technology, industry cooperation and consumer education if the spam tsunami is to be stopped, the MX says. ®

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