FTC to Congress: Do-Not-E-mail Registry Won’t Work

The Federal Trade Commission on June 15 told Congress that a national do-not-e-mail registry won’t reduce the amount of spam consumers receive. In fact, the FTC said it might even increase spam and could not be enforced effectively.

In a report filed in response to the statutory mandate from the Can-Spam Act of 2004, the FTC also said that antispam efforts “should focus on creating a robust e-mail authentication system that would prevent spammers from hiding their tracks and thereby evading Internet service providers’ antispam filters and law enforcement.”

Rather than endorse a do-not-e-mail registry, the FTC said that it will sponsor a fall authentication summit “to encourage a thorough analysis of possible authentication systems and their swift deployment.”

Passed last December and enacted in January, the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (Can-Spam) Act called for the FTC to develop a plan and timetable for establishing a national do-not-e-mail registry, explaining any practical, technical, security, privacy, enforcement, or other concerns. The FTC report analyzed three types of possible registries: one containing individual e-mail addresses; one containing the names of domains that did not wish to receive spam; and a third registry of individual names that required all unsolicited commercial e-mail to be sent via an independent third party that would deliver messages only to those e-mail addresses not on the registry.

The Direct Marketing Association, which opposes a do-not-e-mail registry, is breathing a sigh of relief. The FTC’s rejection of such a registry “reflects the widely held belief that a do-not-e-mail list would not be a do-not-spam list,” Jerry Cerasale, DMA senior vice president, government affairs, said in a statement. “It is imperative that there will be an authentication system in place so that consumers and regulators can determine who sent the e-mail and take appropriate action.”

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