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government initiatives being considered to fight spam

with all the attention being given to the spam problem in the media and in the halls of government, there still is no legislation limiting unsolicited commercial email. in fact, there still is no working definition of spam, causing delays in legislative proceedings, and allowing spammers to continue sending unwanted e-mail.
this seems ironic, in that the president himself receives 15,000 spam messages per day, proving that the white house computer is just as good a receptacle for spam as anyone's. a recent cbs marketwatch article noted that the white house recently changed its email system to avoid receiving annoying emails.

the layers of politics involved in lawmaking are enough to keep a white house intern warm in wintertime. the problem is that bipartisan ping-pong is also holding up the process, and we are all patiently waiting for congress to decide which bills to pass and which ones to toss out.

the following solutions addressing the issue of spam are being considered in washington:

legitimate headers email makes its way from the sender’s machine to your inbox with electronic labels that track the source and destination. some spammers list fraudulent source information so that internet service providers (isps) cannot track them down. certain legislators want to require that all bulk mailings have legitimate headers, making it easier to track and shutdown the biggest abusers.
no-spam registration database senator charles e. schumer (d-new york) is introducing a bill that would fund a registration database based on the same principle as the do-not-call registration database. however, some people have made the point that spammers are not credible organizations and will not abide by any law that makes it illegal to send spam to people on the list. in fact, this database would be a target-rich environment for a joint venture between spammers and hackers.

can-spam legislation a bill first introduced in 2001 is now being reintroduced by senators conrad burns (r-montana) and ron wyden (d-oregon). this bill requires bulk emailers to provide legitimate return email addresses with each email so that consumers can reply and request to be removed from the mailing list. it also will penalize a bulk emailer $10.00 per email if they continue after a recipient chooses to opt-out.

taxing emails a proposal to add a small tax to each email would be insignificant to the average day-to-day users, but would definitely force bulk emailers to target a much smaller audience.

these proposed laws, however, would apply only to domestic bulk emails. currently there are no plans in place to stop a spammer from doing business overseas, and international laws would be difficult to put into place.

considering the law of supply and demand, the proposed initiatives only effect the supply side of spamming. as long as there is a demand, someone will find a way to supply the service. consumers should purchase only from vendors employing reputable techniques. those who purchase from spammers should be penalized if the transaction is determined by the ftc to be spamming.

it is important to note that even though the direct marketing association (dma) is currently actively involved in fighting spam, the organization only decided to jump on the bandwagon after they had to start dealing with a patchwork of state laws. my guess is that the dma believes a more uniform and more business-friendly set of regulations would come from washington than from the
individual states.

until there is effective legislation in place to outlaw and/or limit spam, it is up to you to find the spam-eliminating method that best suits your needs

as seen in hudson valley business journal august 22, 2003

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