|Received:||4/10/2004 4:01:21 PM|
|Agency:||Federal Trade Commission|
A. 1. If a company truly wants to send "public service" or "informational" messages, why doesn't it do so without mentioning its own name? Why not mention only the names of non-profit organizations, or industry groups that include its competitors? The answer: any email mentioning the company or its products, that is not a "transactional or relationship" message, is obviously intended to promote the company and is therefore "commercial". B. 1. "Transactional or relationship messages" should be allowed ONLY if the recipient has given an email address to the sender AND requested that the sender use this method to send these messages. If a consumer does not give an email address, but instead gives a telephone number or mailing address, then the company must be required to respect their wishes and use that method to contact the consumer. B. 3., B. 4. Some guidelines are needed to restrict the amount of advertising or promotion that is allowed in "transactional" or relationship email messages. For example, it's very common for advertising to make up more than half of the pieces of paper that accompany a credit card statement. One idea for a reasonable rule: advertising in transactional messages could be limited to 1/3 of the text, 1/3 of the area of the message in HTML or other "page" format, 1/3 of the width of the screen, and placed at a location below or after the "transactional" information. D. 1. CAN-SPAM has created to two kinds of spam: legal and illegal. Before deciding whether the message is "legal", and whether to unsubscribe, the recipient must determine whether the message headers have been falsified, the physical address is real, etc. and guess whether the sender will honor the unsubscribe request. This is an unreasonable burden on the recipient. To reduce this burden on the recipient's email system, repeated email messages to a particular address with no response from the recipient should be viewed as a violation. E. 2. Unsolicited advertising email is already a burden upon the recipient. All companies who participate in advertising that includes a company that has been sent an opt-out request, should be responsible for violations. This way, the burden of being "clean" and choosing advertising partners falls where it should, on the advertiser who expects to benefit. F. Even if violators of the CAN-SPAM Act were prosecuted, the Act legalizes unsolicited email in general and places the burden for receiving it and responding to it (unsubscribing) unfairly on the recipients, who receive no value for their wasted time and effort. There are about 24 million businesses in the USA. If only 0.1% of them choose to send one advertising message every month, that would amount to 800 messages every day. That inconvenience to the recipient far outweighs any "right" of the advertiser to send unsolicited marketing email. In broadcast or print media, or postal mail the advertiser pays its own way. Advertising pays for useful content: news, sports, entertainment, drama, comedy, etc. Marketing by postal mail helps keep first-class mail reliable and affordable. The cost of these media limits the level of advertising. When a consumer does not wish to view advertising s/he can turn can view or read other media that does not have advertising. Email delivers no news, information, drama, sports, comedy, nothing. A consumer cannot "withdraw" from advertising, because companies are allowed under the CAN-SPAM Act to use personal email addresses for advertising purposes. This advertising wastes our resources: disk space, but most of all our time and attention. G. I operate a Small Business. I do not use spam to market my services and I do not buy anything from advertisers who send spam. Unsolicited marketing email, even when "legal" under the CAN-SPAM Act, is a drain on my time, resources, and that of my customers and suppliers.