|Received:||4/19/2004 2:28:32 PM|
|Organization:||P.I. Reed School of Journalism of West Virginia University|
|Agency:||Federal Trade Commission|
Re: CAN-SPAM Act Rulemaking, Project No. R411008 Dear Commissioners, It is an arduous challenge before you to protect consumer rights from those abusing our electronic communications system. Having worked in the IT industry for nearly three years, I, like many of you, dreaded wading through the onslaught of unsolicited bulk email to find and conduct my daily business. We appreciate your immediate response to our cry for help. My concerns and comments cover several items for action and education. Many improvements have been made since the implementation of the CanSpam Act in January. However, I am now receiving spam from “unknown” and wonder how many other “unknowns” exist and how any legislation will stop them without severe consequences and punishment. During the CanSpam hearings last year, the committee recognized that the majority of spam is generated by a limited number of violators. In a perfect world, we would be able to identify these individuals and hold them responsible for their fraudulent actions so to serve as an example to others tempted to abuse our electronic mail system. Firstly, there should be a zero tolerance for using the Internet to transmit porn – identified or not in subject lines. E-mail of sexually explicit content should be banned period! As is the case with nearly any regulation, some stand to suffer because of the wrongdoing of a few. However, for those of us who recognize the need for information and respect the preferences of our clients, some of the proposed rulings pose a damage to many of the legitimate publications designed to educate and inform our publics. The proposed requirement for companies to maintain suppression lists may have a negative effect on publishers who require permission from the consumer prior to adding them to any list. Also, consumers currently ignore unsubscribe lists because the lists have served the spammers with confirmed e-mail addresses to further seduce unsuspected individuals with miracle drugs, products and services. Additionally, these unsubscribe lists could easily fall into the hands of spammers, leading to more spam. The acquisition of personal information (via cookies, spy ware, etc.) via web sites should be addressed. Very simply, if an individual doesn't request information or ask to be contacted, but merely visits a web site, technology could be used to capture personal information from visiting a web site. Our laws must clearly identify this practice to be illegal. An educational campaign will be needed to inform the public of safe and acceptable e-mail practices (like blind carbon copy addressing) and it will not be an easy task given the millions of Americans using the net at home, work and school. Commercial and transactional messages should never be combined in a message. Another key point about this legislation concerns reporting, monitoring, and convicting violators. Please provide support and services for reporting and monitoring violators and do not pass the responsibility to consumers as in the Do Not Call List. I frequently report spam to email@example.com and hope it will continue to be available to us for reporting spam for your continued monitoring and evaluation. As suspected, we have seen an increase in traditional direct mail and exempt telemarketing calls – despite the Do Not Call List. Technology gurus will continue to find ways to avoid punishment by developing additional unethical tactics to our solutions, but we urge you to not give in or “opt out” from ending this abuse. I would be honored to help in any way to assist you in your efforts to protect our rights. Thank you, Sheila Saab Public Relations Specialist Adjunct Faculty Member - WVU West Virginia, U.S.A.