|Received:||3/22/2004 11:21:12 PM|
|Organization:||[as an individual]|
|Agency:||Federal Trade Commission|
Question A-1: If the sender is a commercial entity (or its agent) and the message was not requested by the recipient, then, absent an existing business relationship, the message is commercial. Unless (double) opted-in by the consumer, any message without an existing (and narrowly defined) relationship is SPAM. Question B-1: An existing relationship should NOT allow for unlimited commercial messages from "related companies" such as subsidiaries or any other commercial message not directly related to the underlying relationship or transaction. In other words, purchising a single item from a company should not allow the company to then inundate the customer with sales pitches, nor should a bank be able to send messages for its many services unrelated to a customers checking account if that is the only relatioship that exists between the parties. F--National Do Not Mail Registry: A VERY BAD idea. Such a registry would be used by SPAMmers to harvest addresses. However, a "NATIONAL, I OPTED OUT, REGISTRY" would be a great idea. Any opted-out message "cc'ed" to the registry would be sufficient proof in the event of regulatory or court action that the consumer had, in fact, opted out. There are no privacy issues in this case, since the messsage by definition has been provided to a commercial mailer in order to opt out from that mailer's messages. F--Subject line labeling: I suggest that an "approved list" of the "commercial message" identifier that SHOULD/MUST be the first word in any commercial e-mail message. Such a list would allow consumers and businesses to filter messages using these standard terms and updating their mail filters by consulting the FTC web site for new terms periodically. A FEW ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: 1) Please create a special exemption for "double-opt in" sources (e.g. e-newsletters), but not "single opt-in", as single opt-in can be manipulated by somebody "opting in" someone else. My suggestion is that any double-opt in, provided it also offers double opt out (i.e., a confirmation that an opt out request has been received so that people cannot be opted out without their knowledge), be given an exemption from any further requirements as to advertisers that advertise, for instance, in an e-newsletter. This is similar to subscribing to a physical magazine that is filled with advertisements. 2) No deceitful coding should be allowed, including, but not limited to web beacons, invisible text, gobbledygook used to sneak past mail filters, etc. 3) All opt-out requests should be to "email@example.com". This would eliminate the opt-out web pages that hijacks a visitor's browser or in other ways tricks a user, perhaps to re-opt-in! Simply forwarding the message to "firstname.lastname@example.org" should be the only method that meets the Act's requirements. 4) The subscribing or furnishing of third-party e-mail addresses to commercial mailers without that party's knowledge or consent. If that process is automated, it should be considered an aggravated violation.