Commercial E-Mail

Concerns over the amount of commercial e-mail sent have caused some to seek new ways to strengthen e-mail laws, even at the expense of legitimate advertisers.

AAF Position
The AAF supports current implementation of federal anti-spam legislation, which allows legitimate e-mail marketing but imposes criminal sanctions on senders who do not comply with the law. We support current rules for commercial e-mail senders, which require clear disclosure of the e-mail sender, an easy opt-out removal system and a valid postal address as a means for the recipient to contact the sender. The AAF opposes mandatory "opt-in" requirements, meaning that the recipient would first have to authorize a sender before allowing any e-mail to be sent. Like the Federal Trade Commission, we oppose efforts to create a national do-not-e-mail registry, because such a registry would not stop illegal spammers who routinely break the current law. Such a registry would impose unnecessary "scrubbing" costs on legitimate e-mail marketers.

Some privacy advocates seek full opt-in requirements for commercial e-mail. Others have called for a national do-not-e-mail registry, where consumers could place an e-mail address on file with the Federal Trade Commission. Companies would be prohibited by law from sending commercial e-mail to those addresses. However, illegal spam e-mail would continue, as these senders already operate outside of the law.

In the past Congress, Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., introduced a bill was designed to strengthen the FTC's enforcement authority against illegal spam, spyware and other forms of fraud and deception. The bill did not receive a hearing or vote.

Last updated: May 2006

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