The increased energy behind the consumer push to stop spam through federal legislation and
the equivalent of a do-not-call list could help businesses, which have been fighting the
spam battle for years, according to industry analysts.
A study released this week shows what no one is surprised about: People hate spam. What some
analysts say is more surprising is that 79 percent of consumers want spam banned or limited
by law, according to a report from the ePrivacy Group and the Poneman Institute. And 74
percent want a federal do-not-spam list, much like the do-not-call list that recently went
up, limiting telemarketing. Another 59 percent of consumers want spammers to be punished.
”The emailing public has been at the mercy of spammers for way too long,” says Senator
Charles E. Schumer (D, N.Y.), who is pushing for a do-not-spam registery. ”My bill fights
spam on two fronts: It gives email users the ability to put their names on a list to stop
getting spammed and gives law enforcement the ability to go after those spammers who send
The do-not-spam list would go beyond the individual consumer, and be an added weapon in the
enterprise fight against spam, says Vincent Schiavone, president of the ePrivacy Group,
which is based in Philadelphia.
”A lot of bulk mail is aimed at corporate networks,” notes Schiavone. ”A company could
put it’s domain name on the list. For the first time IBM.com could say no unsolicited
marketing material. Any list should enable domain-wide opting out. For the enterprise, this
should take care of a lot of spam.”
But not everyone is convinced that a do-not-spam list would actually work.
Schiavone explains that the list would affect legitimate U.S. companies that are in the
‘grey area’ of spamming. They’re real companies doing real business. But maybe they haven’t
updated their databases or they’re not working with a strong opt-in and opt-out policy.
Those companies would be the ones most likely to be pulled into line by a federal law or an
enforceable do-not-spam list.
But that accounts for only a portion of spam.
What about all of those get rich quick, grow more hair, have better sex and pornographic
emails? What about all the spam that comes from other fraudulent organizations from other
What would this list mean to them? Not much.
Haff says federal legislation is apt to be more effective.
”If a legitimate company sends out an email that wasn’t requested, this law would affect
them,” says Haff. ”Hopefully, it would make them reconsider their actions before the email
goes out. But any law would have to be carefully crafted so it’s not so stringent that
legitimate companies are fighting it rather than welcoming it. Ford Motor Co. or United
Airlines are not the problem when it comes to spam. We should be able to agree on that.”
ePrivacy’s Schiavone says solving the spam puzzle will take a combination of technology, federal legislation and industry policy.
”A combination of tools and laws is the only way to get a handle on it,” says Schiavone, who promotes the idea of digital signatures on emails and other sender verifications. ”There is no trust or accountability in email… Corporate America is under more pressure from spam than the general public is. The cost of not solving the problem is huge.”