COMMENTS CONCERNING CONSUMER FEDERATION OF AMERICA ON-LINE CONSUMER PRIVACY 1997 - P954807
June 18, 1997
Re: Consumer Privacy 1997 -- Supplemental Comment, P954807
On April 15, 1997, Consumer Federation of America submitted comments for the FTC's Public Workshop on Consumer Information Privacy, Session Two. We informed the Commission that we would present the experience on one consumer to illustrate the prevalence of unsolicited commercial e-mail. Please accept these supplemental comments in response to question 2.16 Thank you for your assistance.
Jean Ann Fox
Consumer Federation of America
Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail
2.16 How widespread is the practice of sending unsolicited commercial e-mail? Are privacy or other consumer interests implicated by this practice? What are the sources of e-mail addresses used for this purpose?
Consumer Federation of America asked one consumer to collect and print out all unsolicited commercial e-mail received from April 12 to May 29 to illustrate the volume and type of e-mail received. Ninety-one messages were sent, ranging from religious exhortations to steamy x-rated, fully illustrated solicitations. The 91 e-mail solicitations were in the following categories:
The longest e-mail was a thirteen page treatise on "wealth building on the internet." Options for paying $65.90 included paying by check by mail, check by fax, money order, VISA and MASTERCARD. The "Quick Check" option called for taping a completed check to the form and faxing it to the company for your account to be charged electronically. Other messages promise up to $800 a week in extra income in traditional work-at-home offers (just send $32.95).
For just $89 you can order one million e-mail addresses to launch your own spamming operation. To top that, 30 million addresses are offered for only US$149. Another e-mail asks if you have any idea what 11,700 $5 bills look like piled up on a kitchen table.
One unsolicited commerical e-mail message asked "Are YOU happy with life as it is?" Consumers who are bombarded with e-mail that wastes time, money, and Internet resources while exposing consumers to rip-offs and offensive messages can emphatically answer "No."