|From: "Michael A. Atkinson" firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 5/14/98 9:41am
Subject: Advertising on the Internet
As a computing and Internet professional, I've seen the Internet grow tremendously over the last eight years. And I've seen the Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE, commonly known as "spam") problem grow exponentially with the growth of the Internet.
I'm sure the Commission is familiar with the Junk Fax Law codified in Title 47, Chapter 5, Subchapter II of the United States Code. The Congressional intent of this law is clear. Congress meant to eliminate the cost-shifting inherent in unsolicited commercial faxes.
UCE also shifts the costs from the sender to the recipient. Legitimate forms of advertising, such as television, telemarketing and direct mail, all share a characteristic: the advertiser pays for the advertising. Email works differently. The Internet Service Provider and the recipient pay for the incoming email, both directly and indirectly. That's why the vast majority of the Internet Service Providers and Network Service Providers on the Internet class UBE as a form of theft-of-service. UBE is not a legitimate form of advertising.
An argument might be made that one can remove oneself from an advertiser's mailing list. The history of the Internet shows that, while some senders of UBE will honor these requests, most will not. These "opt-out" schemes don't work. Systems where people subscribe, or "opt-in", to mailing lists do work, and allow people to choose what they pay for.
I urge the Commission to ban UBE entirely. It is not protected by the First Amendment. It is theft-of-service. It is not a legitimate form of advertising.
Michael A. Atkinson