Schumer Renews Call for No Spam Registry

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D.-N.Y.) continued his efforts Wednesday to have the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) create a “Do Not Spam” list modeled after the agency’s wildly popular “Do Not Call” registry with the release of a national survey that shows three out of four consumers support the notion.

The FTC has repeatedly said the idea won’t work and FTC Chairman Timothy J. Muris has stated he wouldn’t sign up for it even if Congress requires his agency to create the list.

Schumer has introduced legislation to do exactly that, but the bill has languished in the Senate Commerce Committee in the face of the FTC’s opposition. Wednesday, Schumer said he was inclined to attach an amendment calling for a don’t spam registry to the anti-spam legislation sponsored by Conrad Burns (R.-Mont.) and Ron Wyden (D.-Ore.), which has passed the Commerce Committee and is likely to come up for a full floor vote before the end of the month.

“The support for a federal no-spam list is strong enough that I don’t think the public is going to be sympathetic to claims that it is hard to do,” Schumer said. “Americans want a solution to the spam plague that has teeth. They don’t want a half-way measure that fails to do something.”

The survey, conducted by UnSpam and InsightExpress, says that one-quarter of the spam in personal e-mail accounts is considered pornographic in nature, a real issue for parents as almost 9 out of 10 (88 percent) say they are “seriously concerned” about their children receiving inappropriate e-mail.

To address the situation, the survey claims, 96 percent of parents are looking for the ability to block pornographic e-mails from reaching their children’s email accounts. In addition, 95 percent think children should be afforded special protections from spam and that anti-spam laws should protect children from receiving inappropriate e-mails.

Schumer said he expects the survey to bolster the arguments he has been making for a more comprehensive approach to dealing with spam, including the creation of an no spam registry. He highlighted that the survey points out that there is wide dissatisfaction with current efforts to combat spam and that almost 85 percent of the survey’s respondents believe laws are needed in addition to the efforts of the Internet service providers.

In addition to a registry, Schumer’s legislation would establish costly fines for spamming activity, and mandate jail time for repeat offenders. The bill would also make it a crime to harvest e-mail addresses, require commercial e-mail to be labeled with “ADV” to permit filtering and clamp down on deceptive information that the FTC estimates is present in 66 percent of all junk e-mail.

“Spam is not just a little nuisance, it’s an epidemic, and getting rid of it for good is not as simple as just hitting the delete button once or twice,” Schumer said. “If nothing is done to deal with this problem, the miracle of the Internet is going to be undone. My bill checks spam at the source and would send those who persist in sending it to jail. If that’s not a strong enough deterrent, I don’t know what is.”

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