FTC: ‘Do Not Spam’ Registry Would Fail

NEW YORK The Federal Trade Commission today told Congress that a do-not-e-mail registry could not be enforced effectively, would fail to reduce the amount of spam consumers receive and might even increase it.

The CAN-SPAM Act, which took effect Jan. 1, required the FTC to report to Congress on the feasibility of such a registry, similar to the national do-not-call list intended to shield consumers from unwanted telemarketing solicitations. To prepare for the report, the FTC sought public comments and held meetings with interested parties over the past six months to explore technical, security, privacy and enforceability issues.

Groups that opposed a do-not-spam list include the Interactive Advertising Bureau, E-mail Service Provider Coalition, TrustE and the Association of National Advertisers.

Instead of recommending the adoption of a registry, the FTC instructed Congress to concentrate on creating e-mail authentication systems, which would prevent spammers from concealing their origins and thereby evading law enforcement and Internet service providers’ filters.

To help focus these efforts, the FTC today said it would sponsor a fall 2004 authentication summit to encourage a thorough analysis of possible confirmation systems and their swift deployment.

The FTC concluded that an e-mail registry could pose security and privacy risks that would likely result in more unwanted messages because spammers would use it as a directory of valid addresses.

—Adweek staff report