December 21, 2005, 12:00 AM

FTC tells Congress that Can-Spam is working

The Can-Spam Act is effectively protecting consumers from spam and is being aggressively enforced by state and federal law enforcers and the private sector, the Federal Trade Commission said in a report to Congress.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

The Can-Spam Act is effectively protecting consumers from spam and is being aggressively enforced by state and federal law enforcers and the private sector, the Federal Trade Commission said in a report to Congress.

The FTC has brought 21 cases under the Can-Spam Act since the law took effect Jan. 1, 2004, according to the report. In addition, the Justice Department, state attorneys general and Internet service providers have brought more than 30 actions in federal court. The Can-Spam Act’s opt-out provisions and prohibitions on falsifying header information have proved useful tools in enforcing the act, the FTC said.

New anti-spam technologies also have been widely deployed and are effective in blocking spam, according to the FTC.

“We’re using technology and teamwork in the battle against illegal spam,” said Lydia Parnes, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Taken together, they are helping us combat the outlaw spammers who disregard laws designed to prevent fraud and protect consumers’ rights.”

The FTC said that commercial e-mail is thriving despite early fears that the Can-Spam Act would make it difficult for legitimate marketers to run e-mail campaigns. It cited recent data from DoubleClick that showed 90% of those surveyed in 2005 reported using e-mail multiple times a day.

While the FTC said it sees no need to change the Can-Spam Act, it asks Congress to pass the pending U.S. Safe Web Act of 2005, which would improve the agency’s ability to trace spammers and sellers who operate outside the U.S. The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation approved the bill last week and submitted it to the Senate.

The FTC also recommended continued efforts to educate consumers on ways to protect themselves against spam, spyware and sexually explicit material. And it called for continued improvement in anti-spam technology, particularly tools that prevent spammers from operating anonymously.

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