February 7, 2003, 12:00 AM

The FTC wants to take a bite out of spam

The Federal Trade Commission will host a three-day "Spam Forum" to address the proliferation of unsolicited commercial e-mail.

The Federal Trade Commission is going to delve into spam. It announced this week that it will host a three-day "Spam Forum" April 30 through May 2 to address the proliferation of unsolicited commercial e-mail and to explore the technical, legal, and financial issues associated with it.

Unsolicited e-mail marketing material is becoming so widespread that it threatens legitimate e-mail marketing, analysts and marketers say. Surveys have shown that some people consider any unrecognized or commercial-oriented e-mail as spam.

The workshop will include panels to address 14 issues associated with spam, including:
• The daily experience of consumers, filter programmers, and ISP abuse department personnel in dealing with spam;
• E-mail address harvesting technology;
• Deceptive routing and subject information in spam;
• The costs and benefits of spam, including the costs ISPs spend on filtering, bandwidth, and customer service that are passed on to consumers;
• Security weaknesses such as open relays, open proxies, and FormMail scripts in e-mail transfer technology;
• blacklists;
• Viruses, web beacons, and spyware that may be attached to e-mail;
• Wireless devices, text-based messaging, and wireless e-mail;
• Current and proposed spam legislation;
• Enforcement of current and proposed international spam legislation;
• Recent private and governmental spam law enforcement actions;
• Best practices for e-mail senders and receivers;
• Evolving technologies to eliminate or negate spam; and
• Structural changes to the way e-mail is sent, including proposals to reverse the cost model of e-mail.

The FTC is encouraging attendance by e-mail marketers, anti-spammers, Internet Service Providers, ISP abuse department personnel, spam filter operators, other e-mail technology professionals, consumers, consumer groups, and law enforcement officials.

The FTC is soliciting participation by panelists who should notify the FTC by March 25. The e-mail address is spamforum@ftc.gov and should be captioned "Spam Forum - Request to Participate, P024407."


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