|Received:||3/13/2004 3:54:11 PM|
|Agency:||Federal Trade Commission|
Question #2: Girl scouts selling cookies is commercial, but not "as" commercial as ACME Cookie Company selling the same cookies. Both are still spam though unless I previously opted into the mailing list. Question #3: If they ask for money, business, or ask you to visit a site that sells things or has ads, that's a pretty good but not a conclusive indicator it's commercial. The overall content of the email, the reputation of who sent it, any web sites, phone numbers, etc. that it mentions, and the respective reputations of those companies must all be taken into account. For example, an "ad" that simply says "you have an important message, click here" and clicking brings up the real ad, is still commercial and if I didn't ask for it, should be CANned. C1: 2 business days for large companies, 5 for medium, 10 for small, where "business day" includes any day they send mass email, including weekends and holidays. D1: Having more than a certain volume of complaints against you AND knowing those complaints exist is an aggravating violation for the next complaintant. Using a virus, trojan horse, or spyware to facilitate spamming is also an aggravating violation. Same for obscuring the true origin, particularly if it libels an innocent party. E2: Question 1 is "maybe." Asking customers to refer you to other customers is not wrong, but using that as a pretense to spam, such as by giving them referral bonuses or "hiding" behind fake "customers" who forward the email for you can be. Who is liable for violations depends on the relationship between the original originator and the intermediate party or parties, and their respective intents. These situations are more likely to be handled in court on a case by case basis. E3: If I can deliver a certified letter AND a subpeona to the business or its agent, then I don't care what kind of address they have. E4: Identifying the sender by trademark or reputation is sufficient: "From: Norton Antivirus" is sufficient if the mail is from Symantec or its agent. Symantec owns Norton Antivirus. F: Do not Email: Do this, and allow domain owners to do this on a block-everything or block-everything-except basis. Effectiveness: To date, not effective. Virus-based, hijacked-machine-based and offshore spamming has gone up, and these are effectively out of reach of legislation. Subject lines: All commercial email should have something in them that clearly identifies them as spam so automated filters can identify them. This does not need to be in the subject line, it can be in any other well-known location, perhaps "X-FTC-criteria: Commercial, Adult" or some such.