16 CFR Part 316; CAN-SPAM Rule: Rule Review; Request for Public Comments; Project No. R711010 #00078

Submission Number:
Timothy Davis
Initiative Name:
16 CFR Part 316; CAN-SPAM Rule: Rule Review; Request for Public Comments; Project No. R711010
1. Is there a continuing need for the Rule? Why or why not? Answer: Yes. Please refer to California Business and Professions Code § 17529.5 This California law prohibits any unsolicited commercial email from or to an email address maintained in California. The spirit and intent of this law is "good" but it is not enforced. Overseas criminals are being paid by US companies to defeat personal spam filters and both are then in criminal violation of the California law. Federal laws and regulations to punish companies from using criminal means to send spam, whether it be pornographic or not, is needed. Enforcement is required, however, on several levels: (a) Regulation of Internet backbone companies to filter out and report to regulatory authorities both illegal types of spam generated by legitimate companies who target individuals who nevertheless don't want the spam and (b) using regulatory fines to discourage them from hiring criminals to do their dirty work for them and (c) to filter out and block unsolicited spam of every type coming from servers outside the U.S. Legitimate companies do simple math to figure out whether or not to break the laws and invade our privacy and make consumers filter their spam. They look at how much money they have to spend; how much money they make; and if they make a positive return on investment, they violate the law. But the numbers they can't comprehend are fuzzy. How much Goodwill does Sears, or Match.com or any other company lose and how much money does it cost them when consumers just boycott their companies, annoyed about getting unwanted spam? In the "old days" consumers could pick up the phone, call the CEO's secretary, and complain. Those complaints were heard and taken care of, often by the secretary and the CEO or other director was informed. Really. More impactful in those days were when consumers sat down and wrote letters and mailed them. Unfortunately, today, large companies who may be the victim of spoofing emails or who may have a criminal in their marketing department who mails out spam trying to help his/her career and make the company more money - in neither situation does management ever receive any complaints. Complaints are often emailed off to boiler rooms in foreign nations (Philippines, Malaysia) where a $3 an hour employee discards them after sending out a form reply. There's no phone numbers to call management for consumers - and if there is, it's the "Office of the President" which is, similarly, a boiler room in the Philippines or other Third World Country and the real problem is never addressed. Not only is there a need to keep the Rule in effect, it needs to be expanded and enforced both to ferret out and punish people located on U.S. soil who either overtly direct spam to be sent to U.S. addresses or those who covertly pay others to do it or those who "look the other way" because they think the spam financially benefits their company. And the Rule needs to be expanded to force Internet backbone companies (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) to filter and report. An updated Rule would increase productivity, save consumers time (time is money), and save legitimate companies money lost to Goodwill and the cost they perceive as "minimal" to violate anti-spam laws. (2) The Rule has provided extremely limited benefit to consumers because it is too narrowly drawn and not well enforced. Regulators can't do this without the assistance of Internet backbone and ISP reporters and filtering. This causes minimal risk of enforcement and makes violations too inexpensive for criminals. (3b&c) Costs would be minimal. Computer software would do most of the filtering and reporting to FTC. Small businesses should benefit unless they violate the rule and face penalties. (10) The modifications proposed reduce costs on Small Businesses. (B2) Computers are fast. Reduce the time to 1 day or immediately.