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Effectively fighting e-mail spam will require a more concerted effort by industry, government and consumers to exceed the limitations of the Can-Spam Act and authenticate legitimate e-mail while educating e-mail users on how to avoid spam, expert says.
Effectively fighting e-mail spam will require a more concerted effort by industry, government and consumers to exceed the limitations of the Can-Spam Act and authenticate legitimate e-mail while educating e-mail users on how to avoid spam, says Trevor Hughes, executive director of the E-mail Sender and Provider Coalition (formerly known as the E-mail Service Provider Coalition), an industry group that represents e-mail marketers and providers of e-mail management systems. “The point here is that the Can-Spam legislation is not a silver bullet, and there needs to be a larger arsenal of weapons to fight spam,” he says.
Hughes notes that a report issued by the Federal Trade Commission earlier this week accurately stated that the Can-Spam Act was having a positive impact on protecting consumers from spam and helping federal and state law enforcement officials to prosecute spammers. And the Act has made it easier for legitimate e-mail marketers to comply with a single federal set of rules. “Before Can-Spam, we had a crazy quilt of 37 state laws affecting e-mail marketing that made it impossible for legitimate marketers to comply with,” Hughes says.
But he admits that there is still too much spam entering consumers’ inboxes and that much is left to do to make overall anti-spam efforts effective. A major ongoing problem, he adds, is that spammers continue to ignore the law itself. “It was true when Can-Spam first went into effect and it’s true now that spammers are fraudulent and deceptive and ignore the Can-Spam Act,” he says. Although the Act has led to dozens of actions against spammers in federal court, experts note that many spammers find it easy to hide their tracks and move on to different e-mail network servers.
That’s why anti-spam efforts need to focus more on authentication of legitimate e-mail and consumer education, Hughes says.
While the Sender ID e-mail authentication standard is proving to be effective in blocking illegitimate e-mail by matching with a legitimate Internet domain name, Hughes says, industry and government groups should do more to encourage participation by e-mail marketers. “The more legitimate e-mail senders adopt technologies like Sender ID, the more the e-mail filters can be effective in identifying good vs. bad e-mail,” Hughes says, adding that marketers can keep up with anti-spam technology and strategies at EmailAuthentication.org.
Consumers also need to be better educated not to freely pass out their e-mail addresses, he adds. “If you post your e-mail address in a chat room or to a gambling site, you’ll get spam,” he says.