|Received:||4/14/2004 4:07:19 PM|
|Agency:||Federal Trade Commission|
For questions 1, 2, and 3, commercial email is any message originated by a business. The purpose of promotion, advertising, relationship, or transaction does not matter. In general, no one should be able to hide behind the technology of the Internet to use or abuse common resources and to remain unaccountable for the wasted time, energy and money. For 2, the sender's name must be traceable somehow to a real company and a person in a department that will respond to communication. One of the cop-outs of spammers is the illusion of compliance, e.g., they provide a name and mailing address for unsubscribing or a link to an unsubscribe function, but they don't actually work. They also change the sender names - the names look real, but there is no way to force the person or entity to respond. In fact, it is to their advantage not to respond. Even worse, a response or request to their message ensure that they will send more junk. No commercial email senders should be able to escape this accountability to respond to people who respond to their messages. On 3, there are ways to tell if a message is commercial or transactional or relationship, but it's too easy to mix them and confuse them. Companies with mature processes and systems and communication expertise deliver effective message that clarify the intent. I don't believe that guidelines could be precise enough and easy enough to follow that the true purpose could be determined with certainty. Plus, the intent is subjective. It will be too difficult to define in a way that makes compliance simple enough and loopholes small enough. For D.1., I believe that no commercial email should be sent without a way to clearly trace who is actually sending the message so they can be held accountable for their actions.