Feeds

FTC wants to tweak CAN-SPAM Act

Seeks clarification on opt-out

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is consulting on proposed changes to the CAN-SPAM Act. These clarify the steps by which a recipient can opt-out of receiving spam, and reduce the time limit for honouring an opt-out request.

The CAN-SPAM Act, also known as the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, came into effect in January 2004.

Despite its name the CAN-SPAM Act fails to actually "can" spam. There is no ban on sending unsolicited commercial -mail or text messages. Instead, it requires that spam sent to consumers includes a means of opting-out of the mailing list used by the sender.

The Act also provides for a national Do-Not-Spam list, bans the sending of fraudulent emails or unmarked sexually oriented e-mails, and provides for civil and criminal sanctions for those spammers who breach the rules. The penalties may amount to fines of $6 million and five years in prison in the most severe cases.

Critics have accused the Act of being narrow and weak, accusations that may be hard to deny given that the US sends more spam than any other, according to a recent report by anti-virus firm Sophos.

Its April 2005 report claimed that the US was responsible for an average of 35.7 per cent of all spam caught in its filters between January and March this year – albeit down on last August's figure from Sophos, which suggested that the US was responsible for over 42 per cent of the world’s spam.

The FTC is in the process of making amendments to its rules for enforcing the Act and seeks comments on its proposals by 27 June.

These include clarifying the definitions of the terms “person” and “sender” – to help in cases where multiple parties are advertising in a single e-mail message – and “valid physical postal addresses”.

It is also proposing to shorten from 10 days to three the time a sender may take before honouring a recipient's opt-out request; and to ensure that when submitting a valid opt-out request, a recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her email address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply email message or visiting a single web page.

© Pinsent Masons 2000 - 2005

See: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (31-page PDF)

Related stories

Police chief withstands spam blitz
AOL seeks to block phishing sites
20 busted in e-pharmacy takedown
Save us from spam
Netizens learning to tolerate spam - study
Nine years in slammer for US spammer
US tops junk mail list of shame - again

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.