FTC Shows That People Are Getting the Lesson of the CAN-SPAM Act

From the excellent GigaLaw.com site:
FTC Says “Do-Not-E-mail” Registry Could Make Spam Worse
“A national “do not e-mail” registry would do little to prevent the proliferation of junk e-mail and could even make the spam problem worse, said the Federal Trade Commission in a report. The FTC was required to produce the report for Congress under a provision of the federal Can-Spam Act, which went into effect in January.”
I gave a presentation that discussed spam last week. For my opening, I argued that the CAN-SPAM Act had all but eliminated the spam issue. I noted that since the enactment of the CAN-SPAM Act, as best as I can tell from the stats that I’ve found:
+ Spam now constitutes a miniscule 70% of all Internet email.
+ A mere 50% of spam contains viruses, spyware or other malware.
+ A whopping 0.3% to 1% of mass emailings comply with the CAN-SPAM Act
+ Spammers are cowering in fear from the zero prosecutions to date.

Ok, I was making a rhetorical point to get my audience’s attention. However, the spam problem seems to have grown exponentiallly since the Act came into effect.
Putting together a “Do Not Spam” Registry seems like it would create the ultimate target for spammers who want to harvest “live” email addresses. I would expect that database to be penetrated, copied and distributed in short order. I can’t imagine how violations of the list would be enforced and, as the 99+% non-compliance rate with CAN-SPAM suggests, how many expect that most spammers would care about the registry.
Oh, yeah. I forgot. We could get a few small players and well-intentioned individuals who couldn’t figure out the rules or made little mistakes and were easy to catch. That will help.
Why not do some simple things that would help? Here are a few:
Stop automatically sending out “you sent a virus” warning messages – there’s little chance these days that it actually came from the “sender of record” and it’s fair to say that these messages now constitute a substantial portion of all spam and use up bandwidth for the rest of us. What’s the point?
Stop opening attachments that you do not expect (even if they come from someone you know) or are not in a format you expect.
Stop clicking on links in unsolicited commercial email messages.
Stop opening messages you think might be spam and spend a minute or two learning about web bugs and other ways spammers can find that you have a live email address.
The bad news is that user behavior is what keeps spam rolling and growing. If you rely on spam filters, but use spammer-friendly habits with your email, you are part of the problem – like the driver with one foot pushing the accelerator and the other pushing the brake at the same time and wondering why the car isn’t working right.
It’s good to see the FTC willing to back away from a “create a new law” approach in this area.