|Received:||3/21/2004 3:44:16 PM|
|Agency:||Federal Trade Commission|
Recently we have seen the rise of emails that promote fraudulent and illegal products. I believe the lack of enforcement in this area encourages others to use similar techniques. I believe that if I were to advertise patent medicines via the Internet I would not receive the same enforcement that I would should I advertise in a newspaper. The complexities of the CAN-SPAM act do not encourage me that this is coming to an end any time soon. The primary difficulties that I see are a lack of end-to-end responsibility for email advertising. Right now, if I employ a company to send out advertising for me they will shield me from all but the most severe detection efforts. Also, regardless of the nature of the message, they will not be held accountable for the content, falling back to their role in simply delivering the message. To truely end the most blatent and obnoxious forms of email advertising, there must be end-to-end accountability which includes all of the various components in sending a message. This specifically includes the end user's ISP in this. Obviously, the end user ISP cannot be held 100% accountable for the email they are transferring, but this must involve them so that there is an incentive for cooperation. This addresses another facet of Internet email advertising - the solicitation of services by "spamming companies". Their position today is that they are simply providing a service and whatever their customer wants to send is not their business. But forcing accountability onto the agent sending the email will pierce the wall protecting the contractor for these services. I am engaged in the business of publishing software and marketing it on the Internet and through other channels. Email has effectively become useless for communicating with customers because of the spam situation. Companies using email for communications are viewed as "spammers" by many who are "activists" that intend to prevent all commercial email, including those transactional forms excluded by the CAN-SPAM act. If, through end-to-end accountability we can eliminate fraudulent and illegal advertising this will improve the usability of email and may one day make this important communications medium available for legitimate businesses again.