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Spam News

New Opt-Out Clause Makes CAN-SPAM Worse 119

Posted by kdawson
from the if-that-were-possible dept.
snydeq writes "Three years of mulling, and the FTC has made the CAN-SPAM Act worse, writes Gripe Line's Ed Foster. Chief among the offenses in the FTC's updated rules is an even worse approach to opt-out procedures. In the future, in scenarios where multiple marketers use a single email message to spam you, 'only one of the senders — the one in the From: field — need be designated the official sender who is responsible for honoring opt-outs,' Foster writes. Translation? 'Other "marketers" who used that spam message, not to mention the spamming service that actually provided the email address list, don't need to honor opt-outs. So try as you might to get yourself off a list, the real spammer can just keep changing the designated sender in the From: field and legally keep on spamming you.' The irony of the CAN-SPAM moniker gets thicker."
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New Opt-Out Clause Makes CAN-SPAM Worse

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  • Irony? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Krishnoid (984597) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:18PM (#23735945) Journal
    At least the accuracy of the moniker is increasing. Better than PATRIOT act, digital rights management, etc.
    • Stone cold dead.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by somersault (912633)
        It should be, but unfortunately that's not the case in today's world. What is your proposed alternative? One that doesn't require the recipient to be online at all times? I like IM systems for transferring files and chatting. What method can you use to eliminate spam unless you don't actually have a built in method of requesting to be added to a white list - so you could just phone up the recipient instead letting them know your username. Even then if you have a phone you're still getting hit by advertising
        • It seems to me that we could do a lot better just by taking a few smaller, more realistic steps.

          For example, "e-mail 2.0" could provide a standardised way of identifying legitimate sending relays for given domain names, the kind of technique currently used (but in a non-standard, loophole-ridden, poorly-supported fashion) by SenderID, DomainKeys et al.

          We could improve the error message system, as well. Just this week, a domain I administer got hit with hundreds of bounce messages per minute for a while,

      • by Dan541 (1032000)
        How? I use it every day!

        I believe email will become a more and more common method of communication, especially with the increased use in mobile devices.

        ~Dan
      • and doesn't have to.

        I'm not going to bother getting into the specifics again, but if you want no spam and no lost email - just write a program that does the same thing with your email that you do. It's really not that hard, you can even do with using just a series of cascading filters. The only spam I've gotten in the last *decade* was 2 instances of a clueless spammer who was manually verifying himself to my system. And I've never had anyone tell me they sent me an email that I didn't get.

        Spam is a *very*
    • They need the PATRIOT-SPAM act.
      If you spam, you go to Gitmo!!!
  • by featheredfrog (94181) <featheredfrog@ancientpond.com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:19PM (#23735981) Homepage
    They should have named it "MAY-SPAM"
  • Genius (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MosesJones (55544) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:20PM (#23735991) Homepage
    Come on folks you've got to admire sheer dumb ass brilliance of this level. This isn't a matter of minor incompetence this is world class stupidity. Checking my SPAM folder at the moment I picked out a few that looked similar and everyone had a different email address

    So in other words this brilliant change in the rules now means that SPAM isn't SPAM. Maybe that is the real way to get rid of it... just define that it doesn't exist.

    There is no poverty in North Korea either apparently.
    • Re:Genius (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mabhatter654 (561290) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:34PM (#23736257)
      This is why established industries LOVE regulations! Once you have procedures in place to "follow" the regulation. Then the regulation becomes barrier to entry, or even a legal minefield, to those coming after.
      In this case unsolicited bulk email would be illegal if you didn't follow all these rules up front. But for the guys that already got the grace period to follow the law it's been twisted just enough to be meaningless!!!

      Power, telco, FCC, FAA, FDA, etc all those rule making agencies are run like this. It's just funny to see something so simple twisted so quickly. This is the same reason nobody wants internet neutrality put into law. Then any exceptions to blocking become "rules" that they "have" to block other content/providers... The telcos are already writing the rules the way they want with lots of backwards worded loopholes.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        This is a failure to regulate effectively, not a place in which regulation necessarily fails. Regulation in itself isn't a bad thing, it just needs to be done by people who actually want to get something done.
      • Definition. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:12PM (#23737977) Journal
        Spam lacks sufficient definition. While there are certain things that most of us can agree are spam, there is a sufficiently large gray area that it's not really possible to define clearly as law.

        However, some things are absurdly easy to define -- take freedom of speech. You are allowed to say pretty much what you want, where you want, short of "Fire!" in a crowded theater. No one has yet found a way to twist the First Amendment into meaning something it doesn't -- into somehow meaning, for example, that all speech except blasphemy is protected.

        Murder is another one. Killing someone on purpose is murder, short of self-defense or actual war.

        I think net neutrality is sufficiently easy to define that if we can get any law right, it should be this one. ISPs should transfer all packets to where they are addressed, with no preference given to one packet over another -- except for a specific customer, at their explicit request (if I ask for a spamfilter, they may intercept port 25.)

        Granted, telcos may subvert the process, but I'd rather at least try than have no legislation at all.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          However, some things are absurdly easy to define -- take freedom of speech. You are allowed to say pretty much what you want, where you want, short of "Fire!" in a crowded theater. No one has yet found a way to twist the First Amendment into meaning something it doesn't -- into somehow meaning, for example, that all speech except blasphemy is protected.

          That's debatable; let's look at the text:

          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

          Maybe I'm just too naive, but it seems to me that it's established such that: a) there would not be a new Church of England taking power in the US and that people can choose whatever religion they want b) people could criticize the goverment. c) people can protest when the government is being stupid. d) the press should be able to report on activities of the government without limitations.

          Yet somehow in the last couple hundred years, this has evolved to mea

          • Re:Definition. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Rary (566291) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:55PM (#23738565)

            How do you translate "or abridging the freedom of speech" into "people could criticize the government"? It makes no mention of the government, except in the final point, "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances", which is a separate bullet point.

            In other words, the entirety of the Amendment, as it pertains to freedom of speech, is "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech". That's a pretty clear way of saying "the Government can't legally prevent you from saying anything -- period".

            Standard disclaimer applies: IANAANHIRTCIIEIJIIDYP (I Am Not An American, Nor Have I Read The Constitution In Its Entirety, I'm Just Interested In Discussing Your Point).

            • By looking at the context of the time; the turmoil from the Revolution was still fresh -- they were essentially codifying the things that they had fought for. Here's an interesting timeline [firstamendmentcenter.org] that gives some perspective; though it's only one slice of the picture.
              • by mixmatch (957776)
                I highly doubt that the founders intended their document to be interpreted in context. Contrarily, I'm rather certain that they intended it to be read and understood literally. I'm confident that they know that they should write exactly what they meant literally, to avoid people twisting the meaning under the guise of 'historical context'.
                • Yes, and not that I agree with HIS point, but you must look at context in order to establish meaning, at times; looking at things "literally" fails when definitions or meanings of terms shift or change.

                  The second amendment is a prime example of this; read it in context of the times and the meanings of the words (regulate, militia) and it's definitely saying that the federal government cannot take your guns away.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Tanktalus (794810)

                  Omitting context ignores how language evolves over time. For example, the difference in meaning that "beg the question" has gone through from its original inception (indicating a circular argument) to its modern and common interpretation (raising a question - begging a question be asked).

                  It also ignores how society evolves over time - socially, technologically, etc. For the press to invade the privacy of even the President was unheard of in their time. It was a given: that doesn't happen in polite socie

                  • by mixmatch (957776)
                    The constitution neither uses the phrase "beg the question", nor does it address a right to privacy. It's a rather straight forward explanation of how the federal government is supposed to function as a framework for state governments. I've never had a hard time reading and understanding it and I think you would be hard pressed to find portions of the constitution that do not make sense in a modern literary context.
              • by Rary (566291)

                Context is a necessary aid in understanding, but it's no excuse for not saying what you mean. Their intention may have been to protect political speech, but they clearly chose not to specifically state that, choosing instead to protect all speech, so as to ensure that political speech would be protected.

                I don't think this was unintentional, as evidenced by the fact that they were quite specific in much of the rest of the text. In fact, I'd suggest that they wanted to ensure that there was no loophole where

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Are you so sure that it hasn't been twisted? Because it's used now to protect a /lot/ more than it says it protects.

            -1, Factually incorrect. Borrowing the other poster's phrasing, it pretty much exactly says "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech."

            Say what you will about historical context, but I very much doubt you can twist it (or untwist it, as you say?) to mean anything other than "The people can say whatever the fuck they want." Because that is pretty close to what it literally says.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              Say what you will about historical context, but I very much doubt you can twist it (or untwist it, as you say?) to mean anything other than "The people can say whatever the fuck they want." Because that is pretty close to what it literally says.

              And yet the law recognises concepts such as defamation, certain types of intellectual property, incitement to commit certain crimes...

              Either all these laws are unconstitutional, or the free speech right isn't completely universal after all.

              I think there is a rational explanation for this apparent contradiction, which I've written about here before, but how do you reconcile these facts (assuming your previous comment was meant to be taken literally)?

        • Murder is another one. Killing someone on purpose is murder, short of self-defense or actual war.

          So, Murder isn't murder then.

          You're coming at me with a knife. I shoot you. Self defense, not murder, okay.

          You broke into my house. No weapon. Still scary looking. I shoot you. Self defense? Maybe, but I hope you're ready to go through a hell of a court case depending on where you live.

          Or if you're attacking someone else and I end your life. Not self defense, still not murder but a huge gray area legally at leas

          • Both legally and morally they come down to "was lethal force required or justified, or was there another option you could have used".

            Which is pretty much what I meant by "self-defense". Sorry I wasn't clear -- and thanks for spelling that out.

            You could also blur the 'war' one quiet a lot too-- gang wars certainly aren't official enough to count, but where do you draw the line?

            Easy: Take the above. In a war, lethal force is pretty much necessary.

            with any definition comes corner cases and gray area.

            Absolutely. In fact, as long as we speak English and not Lojban, most definitions are going to have semantic problems, too.

            The concern here, though, is whether net neutrality legislation could be twisted and subverted into meaning the opposite of its intent -- whether it could legitimize what the ISPs are doing. My point is tha

        • by Kjella (173770)

          I think net neutrality is sufficiently easy to define that if we can get any law right, it should be this one. ISPs should transfer all packets to where they are addressed, with no preference given to one packet over another -- except for a specific customer, at their explicit request (if I ask for a spamfilter, they may intercept port 25.)

          That's the greater net neutrality, which seems to kill all QoS. I'd settle for the lesser: "ISPs should transfer all packets to where they are addressed, with no preference given to one destination over another". That prevents them from double-dipping by putting Google on the slow lane and Yahoo in the fast lane. Shit like Comcast's blocking should be handled through fraud, false advertising and impersonating network hosts, not really network neutrality. Like when I go to the post office, it probably makes

          • That's the greater net neutrality, which seems to kill all QoS.

            Not true. Users can still do QoS on their own routers, and ISPs can do QoS if you specifically request it (but not in any way which affects other customers, unless those other customers are connecting to you.)

            That's my own proposed definition.

            I'd settle for the lesser: "ISPs should transfer all packets to where they are addressed, with no preference given to one destination over another".

            What defines a source and a destination? Unless you're talking about an individual packet with a source IP and a destination IP, in which case, they'd throttle incoming connections.

            Shit like Comcast's blocking should be handled through fraud, false advertising and impersonating network hosts, not really network neutrality.

            None of this would be required for shaping to reduce torrent traffic to pretty much z

        • Lacks sufficient definition? Are you kidding me?

          Spam is unsolicited bulk mail. Just like the paper-spam we get in our mailboxes.
          There'd be a trivial way to legislate spam: A central opt-in list, maintained by a central authority.

          Don't make me subscribe to your newsletter on your servers, make me subscribe on that central server.
          So everybody who cares can verify that I requested to receive mail from spammer@viagra.ru - or not.

          Enforcing that law and tracking down the original senders is a different story but
          • Lacks sufficient definition? Are you kidding me?

            Spam is unsolicited bulk mail.

            One could quibble with that on several counts.

            Why "bulk"? Is it not spam if some company sends just me a targetted advert I didn't want?

            And should there be some "commercial" element? Spam is often known as UCE: unsolicited commercial e-mail. But that allows the political stuff, which is a somewhat different consideration.

            • Well, scratch the "bulk" then. Spam is any mail that I didn't request and don't want to get.
              This simplest definition should be sufficient for the model I proposed because the recipient can prove at any time that he did not allow the sender to contact him. It's ofcourse up to the recipient to actually file a complaint but I'm fairly convinced that most of us would - if those complaints actually translate into legal action against the sender.

              • Well, scratch the "bulk" then. Spam is any mail that I didn't request and don't want to get.

                That about sums it up -- what one person wants is very different than what someone else wants. That makes it at least as difficult to legislate as porn.

                There'd be a trivial way to legislate spam: A central opt-in list, maintained by a central authority.

                And a single point of failure. I could tick multiple boxes on that wonderful form...

                Don't make me subscribe to your newsletter on your servers, make me subscribe on that central server.

                Requires total immediate cooperation from everyone all at once.

                So everybody who cares can verify that I requested to receive mail from spammer@viagra.ru - or not.

                That can be done without a central authority -- just require me to cryptographically sign a message from them. Then, if there's ever a question, the mailing list can produce the signature.

                Remember, only a handful of people is responsible for most of the spam in your inbox.

                Actually, no one is.

                • There'd be a trivial way to legislate spam: A central opt-in list, maintained by a central authority.

                  And a single point of failure. I could tick multiple boxes on that wonderful form...

                  Remember we're talking about a legislative approach here. The system is not queried for each E-Mail.

                  Don't make me subscribe to your newsletter on your servers, make me subscribe on that central server.

                  Requires total immediate cooperation from everyone all at once.

                  Wrong. Only from the senders of bulk mail who must adjust their

                  • Wrong. This is not about you being able to prove that you signed up, it's about the sender being able to prove that you signed up.

                    Read that again, now with emphasis:

                    just require me to cryptographically sign a message for them. Then, if there's ever a question, the mailing list can produce my signature.

                    Do you think bandwidth and equipment of e-mail providers and ISPs are free?

                    I think tarpitting solves that problem.

                    But yeah, the bandwidth has got to be essentially free -- if they're providing 100 mbits to most of their customers, they've got to have a lot of spare capacity just sitting around.

                    Do you think handling the remaining spam (and if it's only the proverbial "2 mails per day" for you) and false positives is free?

                    I don't get false positives. 2 spams in my inbox, maybe, and ten in my "unsure" box -- that one occasionally has false positives. And hundreds (thousands?) in my "spam" box, no false positives.

                    Sorting through 12 emails, mostly by skimming subject lines

                    • Well, I'll try to keep it short.

                      1) The mailing list can not prove that the signature belongs to you unless your private key has been blessed (and related to your e-mail address) by a trusted 3rd party.

                      2) Tarpitting solves nothing really. Spammers work with large botnets, some as large as a million zombies. That's a lot of impact, even under the unrealistic assumption that each zombie could only deliver 1 or 2 messages per run.

                      3) Bandwidth is cheap but not free. You do have a point though; the cost of wasted
                    • 2) Tarpitting solves nothing really. Spammers work with large botnets, some as large as a million zombies.

                      I still think it can work, given progressive tarpitting of IPs, IP ranges, and domains (via reverse lookup) across all traffic -- not just SMTP, but anything I can put a rate-limiter in front of. In theory, this would put pressure on users directly, or on ISPs to pressure their users, or users to pressure their ISPs to and stop harboring spammers -- imagine if everyone who spams Gmail were blocked (or considerably slowed) from google.com.

                      Seems to me a lot more fair and reliable than, say, what AOL does, wi

    • by Z00L00K (682162)
      The only correct thing is to actually turn it around and have Opt-In lists, and anybody failing to honor the list has to pay damages.

      An opt-in has to be valid at most for a year.

      Unfortunately such lists wouldn't be really working either. Who does really think that spammers will care about a national law?

      It's probably better to step up the efforts and require signed emails with signatures verified by a trusted authority. Anything unsigned will get junked, and it's easier to filter signed spam since eac

  • Just think I can have all kinds of people who had a dead uncle leave me millions of dollars in a Nepal lottery and now can't touch the money without offering me a job processing money orders for 50% of the take and a free bottle of Viagr14!!!!
  • by aeschenkarnos (517917) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:28PM (#23736169)
    1. Money is good. Money is God's way of showing who he likes, and who he doesn't. (Except for George Soros.)

    2. Things that are done for money are good. Corollary: people wouldn't do good things but for being given money. Well, we wouldn't, and we have no problem extrapolating to everybody.

    3. Spamming is done for money.

    4. Therefore spamming is good.

  • by pla (258480) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:36PM (#23736307) Journal
    Other "marketers" who used that spam message, not to mention the spamming service that actually provided the email address list, don't need to honor opt-outs

    Damn! I guess this means an end to the three wonderful years of relief we've all enjoyed from spam thanks to the oh-so-effective initial rules.


    Seriously, this change really doesn't matter, except it will let the FTC claim success due to a massive drop in the number of "valid" complaints against spammers. Whining that it weakens the existing law strikes me as similar to complaining that a serial killer violated a restraining order.
  • I fully expect within the next few years we will see average Joe hacker ... as in a person who likes to fool with technology ... begin a personal and secret computer assault against any business or organization who uses the services of spammers.

    In other words, if those in power won't protect me, why should I feel I am doing anything wrong to try and protect myself?

    If using the services of a spammer gets your network shot down with any sort of reliable regularity, it seems logical that using them is goin

    • by Jor-Al (1298017)

      I fully expect within the next few years we will see average Joe hacker ... as in a person who likes to fool with technology ... begin a personal and secret computer assault against any business or organization who uses the services of spammers.
      Why would he want to stop the hackers when he can use his expertise to help them and make tons of money? I'm sure they want a cut of the penis pill sales and Nigerian scam money too!
    • by Nullav (1053766)

      Make 40G's using the spammer, spend 37G's fixing the network damage that follows.
      What does WoW have to do with any of this?
    • I fully expect within the next few years we will see average Joe hacker ... as in a person who likes to fool with technology ... begin a personal and secret computer assault against any business or organization who uses the services of spammers.

      Trust me, we tried... first there was blue frog. Then we tried to start the Okopipi group, but there wasn't any support from *ANY* organization. In fact, some guys accused us of making botnets worse. In the end the developers ended up leaving, one by one.

      The project simply died.

    • And then when that happens I'll scrape tech/hacker sites (and google results for tech results) for email addresses to send spam to for my competitors website.

      an army of frustrated shortsighted hackers willing to do my evil bidding, sounds fun.
  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:40PM (#23736409) Homepage Journal
    It seems that they managed to take a completely toothless act, and make it even less helpful.

    I guess it is no wonder that congress has managed to somehow attain an even lower approval rating than our current commander-in-chief, seeing as they managed to squirt out something like this instead of dealing with important national issues.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by AndroidCat (229562)
      It must have taken a lot of long hard work to make CAN-SPAM even more useless. Ha ha ha, and they said that it couldn't be done!
    • by Mr2001 (90979)

      I guess it is no wonder that congress has managed to somehow attain an even lower approval rating than our current commander-in-chief, seeing as they managed to squirt out something like this
      Er, no. This was "squirted out" by the Federal Trade Commission, not Congress. You don't even have to RTFA - it's right there in the summary.
  • by Rival (14861) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:42PM (#23736449) Homepage Journal
    This can work. After all, most spammers comply with the rest of the act and are legitimate, honest and upright business owners, right?

    I mean, such good people would surely include a visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism, honored quickly and used only for compliance purposes.

    And they would provide relevant subject lines, legitimate physical addresses, and adult-content labels on their "value-added, pre-solicited sales invitation messages."

    And, of course, never falsify header information, use open relays, or send messages to a harvested email address. Right?

    Seriously, what are they really hoping to accomplish with this act? Has it done any significant good?
    • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:07PM (#23736933)
      This can work. After all, most spammers comply with the rest of the act and are legitimate, honest and upright business owners, right?

      Your being sarcastic, but you are more right than you think.

      The CAN SPAM act isn't REALLY directed at the "Get V1-a--g-ri-alis". Those guys don't provide any sort of optout anyway. The CAN-SPAM act really just regulates legitimate newsletters and their behaviour, and this little tweak makes life a little easier for them.

      The idea here if I read it right, seems to be that if I send out legitimate newsletter and company-X advertises in it, and then you opt out of my newsletter, under the old can-spam rules if company-X advertises in another newsletter that you receive, you could complain that you opted out, and charge them with spamming... which is really a bit absurd. Its like cancelling your subscription to forbes and then being offended the same ads for Lexus showed up in your subscription to Times!

      As you observed the "real" spammers don't give a crap about CANSPAM. This doesn't affect them, because CANSPAM never really affected them. So opening this 'loophole' is primarily about making it easier for legitimate newsletters to operate.
    • by kesuki (321456)
      "Seriously, what are they really hoping to accomplish with this act? Has it done any significant good?"

      i think the whole point, is pandering, positioning, and of course, legislating e-mail the the point where nobody running a legitimate business would think of sending unsolicited e-mails without contracting through a 'professional' spam mail company.

      so in other words, it's done nothing but make the spam industry more profitable, while pretending to have improved the situation when it has done nothing of the
      • Or using Anne P. Mitchell's 'SuretyMail' services. Only a few hundred dollars a month to keep off the DNS blacklists, and she even helped write CAN-SPAM!
  • by HardCaliber (1290854) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:47PM (#23736551)
    Who do these lawmakers use as expert advisors on technical issues? Members of the Geek Squad that worked for Best Buy for a month, before being let go?
    • No, Ted Stevens. He enlightened the other members of Congress that the Internet was not a big truck, but a series of tubes.
      • Se. Stevens catches a lot of flack, but that's the wrong part of his idiotic tirade againt commercial use of the Internet.

        The part you wanted was "I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?"

        We have been describing the Internet as a series of tubes which we connect fat pipes to for a long time, because that analogy makes sense. Sen. Stevens, on the other hand, doesn't.
    • by kat_skan (5219) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:06PM (#23736909)

      Who do these lawmakers use as expert advisors on technical issues?

      Anybody who makes a sufficiently large contribution to their campaign, apparently.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Steve Richter, father and lawyer to "SPAM KING" Scott Richter helped write the CAN-SPAM act. The act is a joke.
  • and make it easier to transport, for a wider audience.

    two more changes, and they can change the name of the bill as well, to "MUST spam."
  • Why not just cut out the middleman and write the spammers directly, giving them my address and asking them to please stop sending me anything, or not to do so in the future if they didn't already have it?
  • by Talaria (874527) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:20PM (#23737187)
    You have this completely wrong, although this is *such* a confusing clause, that nobody could blame you.

    First let me qualify by saying that I am not only a lawyer in the Internet and anti-spam industry, but I helped author the "affiliate spam" section of CAN-SPAM, to which this clause is a natural extension. We are also fresh from a teleseminar which we provided on this very subject.

    The following is an excerpt from our CAN-SPAM compliance page, which is at http://www.isipp.com/can-spam.php [isipp.com]:

    In large part, this requirement is an effort to hold affiliate programs responsible for how their affiliates promote them. If the affiliate is honest about who they are, and their "From address", and if they put something in the email about themselves, then the user will be able to unsubscribe from the affiliate's list. But if the affiliate is dishonest, and hides their true identity, then the affiliate program for the product featured in the email (which will be the product being sold under the affiliate program) becomes responsible. In other words, if you are advertised in the affiliate's email, and the affiliate cloaks who they are, you become responsible. By shifting responsiblity for mislabled email to the companies being advertised in the email, there is an incentive for affiliate program managers to more tightly police their affiliates.

    Anne P. Mitchell, Esq.
    CEO/President
    Institute for Spam and Internet Public Policy
    http://www.isipp.com/ [isipp.com]

    • imagine if I obfuscate all my emails, but always mention an item avaialble from amazon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by joocemann (1273720)
      Cool, then can you please make it so spam is an OPT-IN thing instead of OPT-OUT?

      As it stands, the majority of people who receive the 'opt-out' spam DO NOT WANT IT, which makes the solution obvious: Change the system to Opt-In. That way, those of us who want something from someone, get it, and those whose spam is unsolicited can be prosecuted.

      It is ridiculous that something so problematic to day-to-day functions is treated as OPT-OUT. If you're a policy maker, how do you justify that aspect of the policy?
    • by Todd Knarr (15451)

      And this apparently ignores one of the more common abuses: an "affiliate" who exists solely to spam. They don't bother cloaking their identity because they only exist for the length of the spam run. Recipients submit opt-out requests, that affiliate puts them on the list. And then promptly evaporates, replaced by a new, different affiliate who can send the same spam for the same product and not have to worry about the opt-outs.

      Make it opt-in. Period. This is the era of Google and the like. If I'm at all in

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'm afraid that you have powerful motives in protecting spam, and keepiingi CAN-SPAM useless. We only need to look at your business, 'SuretyMail', as described at http://www.suretymail.com/ [suretymail.com]. It's apparently a 'keep your business spam off the blacklists' set of tools. And most spammers simply don't care. They're quite willing to use throwaway accounts or stolen computer time to send their spam, and they've been doing it since the original Canter&Siegel spam.

      You are apparently trying to protect your busin
    • by Dan541 (1032000)
      I checked your website and the last thing we need are assholes like you providing safe harbour for spammers.

      Suddenly it's not spam if they are sending money your way.

      I think I speak for most of us when I say "Fuck Off!"

      ~Dan
  • by hurfy (735314)
    SO if i opt out of the gripe-line newletter the other 393473 infoworld divisions won't be affected......

    wait...what was the gripe again?

    ok, not really a problem with them but it does make a nice example
  • by Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:30PM (#23737367)
    Find the spammers, and impale them. DEATH TO SPAMMERS!
  • The whole opt-out procedure is not practical, unless you could check the certificate of the spammer website maybe :) Just click on the opt-out link to assure spammers of an active email address (in the best case).
  • Oh great, more junk on my mail server. Someone lobbied the heck out of the FTC to allow more people to spam us. We need to start with an clean sheet so no one in the USA is on any mailing list then opt in to any list one may like. Opting out of every mailing list is nearly impossible since most of the mailing list "we signed up for" were either stolen from legitimate companies or companies that gone bye-bye and people have "acquired" these list. Most spammer may put a "opt-out" link or email address but rea
  • by Kayamon (926543) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:56PM (#23737783) Homepage
    Your post advocates a

    ( ) technical (X) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

    approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

    (X) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
    ( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
    ( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
    ( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
    ( ) Users of email will not put up with it
    ( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) The police will not put up with it
    (X) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
    ( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
    ( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
    ( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
    ( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

    Specifically, your plan fails to account for

    ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    ( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
    ( ) Open relays in foreign countries
    ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
    (X) Asshats
    ( ) Jurisdictional problems
    ( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
    ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    ( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
    ( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
    ( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
    ( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
    (X) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
    (X) Extreme profitability of spam
    ( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    (X) Technically illiterate politicians
    ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
    (X) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
    ( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    ( ) Outlook

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    ( ) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
    been shown practical
    (X) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
    ( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
    ( ) Blacklists suck
    ( ) Whitelists suck
    ( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    ( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
    ( ) Sending email should be free
    ( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
    ( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    ( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
    ( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
    ( ) I don't want the government reading my email
    ( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

    ( ) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
    (X) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
    ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
    house down!
  • Did anyone actually think CAN-SPAM would actually help?
  • How about we just allow fucking Viagra to be sold over the counter, without a prescription at any drug store? Pick up a hot dog, slurpee, the latest issue of Low Rider, oh, yeah, and a vial of Viagra.

    Shouldn't that at least cut out the Viagra spam?
  • I have been subject to this type of business spam for multiple years.

    CAN-SPAM is a farce, anyone who believes otherwise either does not have an inbox or thinks the Internet is made of tubes.

  • This change essentially has no effect for me or anyone with half a brain. You should never respond to the "remove me" link in spam. It only serves to tell the sender that a human actually read the message and confirms your existence. This is dealing-with-spam 101.
  • It is clear to all sufficiently-experienced observers that the CAN-SPAM act was designed and intended to provide a legal pretext for spam. The earnest support and widespread participation of some of the largest and most notorious spammers provided ample evidence of that, even before the precise language was agreed to. Everyone who is actually anti-spam opposed CAN-SPAM and continues to do so -- they recognize that the bill is utterly worthless, e.g., it fails to even use the correct definition of spam. (
    • by Dan541 (1032000)
      I agree,

      Its like in the movies.

      Cop: You need to come with us, we have some questions we would like to ask you.

      Asshat: I think, I need a lawyer first.

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