16 CFR Part 316; CAN-SPAM Rule: Rule Review; Request for Public Comments; Project No. R711010
The CAN-SPAM Act has been helpful in reducing the amount of spam I receive. Prior to its enactment, I received approximately 100 spam messages every day at four email addresses. Today, I receive on average, about 20 per day at six email addresses (about half of which doesn't comply with the law). An additional email address receives less than one spam message per month. However, most of that reduction seems to be from aggressive filtering of messages, especially those originating outside of the US (even though most of those senders are located in the US and therefore subject to US law). I cannot easily report violators. When I did report violators, I had no method of getting feedback about the report, e.g. did anyone even look at it? As far as I am aware, nothing has happened to the senders of any spam message I reported as being in violation of the rule. Because of this, I stopped bothering to report violators in 2005. The few times I have heard of violators facing legal penalties, they were always facing penalties for violations of other laws, often not even in connection with their spamming activities. The rules/law should be modified to 1) carry significantly stiffer penalties, including making violations a felony for extreme cases; 2) require a simple, easy to use, and HIGHLY PUBLICIZED method of reporting violations and violators; 3) require that every report is acknowledged within no less than 30 days by a manual process; 4) require the aggressive investigation of all reported violations; and 5) require the aggressive prosecution of violators. Today, most spam messages are sent from only a handful of individuals, mostly US citizens, who regularly violate the CAN-SPAM Act. They get away with it because only a handful of companies can attempt to get them prosecuted, and it's generally too expensive for those companies, because they have to do the investigations themselves. State prosecutors have no interest in attempting to bring charges against people outside their own states, and generally do not have the necessary resources. The FTC doesn't currently have the resources, either. However, this would be a wonderful opportunity for the FTC to get its budget increased and expand its manpower to obtain the resources necessary to aggressively pursue and prosecute violators.