US internet users want antispam registry, says senator

US senator Charles Schumer yesterday claimed that 74% of American internet users want a national do-not-spam registry.

US senator Charles Schumer yesterday claimed that 74% of American internet users want a national do-not-spam registry.

Schumer was trying to drum up support for his Stop Pornography and Abusive Marketing (Spam) Act, includes a national do-not-spam registry.

But Schumer's bill has not received a hearing before the US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and staff at the US Federal Trade Commission have expressed concerns that a do-not-spam list would be more difficult to administer than the do-not-call telemarketing list already in existence.

Schumer said that another antispam bill, the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (Can-Spam) Act, may get a vote on the Senate floor before summer recess begins 4 August. If the Senate does not take up his legislation, Schumer promised to offer an amendment to Can-Spam.

"I have good support for an amendment," Schumer said. "We have lots of different people supporting it, and best, the American public supports it. Usually, that works around here."

Schumer and Vincent Schiavone, president and chief executive officer of the ePrivacy Group, released results of a survey of 1,093 US internet users, which found that 74% supported a national do-not-spam list, 79% agreed that unwanted e-mail should be banned or limited by law, and 59% said spammers should be punished.

"The support for a federal no-spam list is strong enough, I don't think the public is going to be sympathetic to claims it's hard to do," Schumer said. "Americans want a solution to the spam plague that has teeth, they don't want halfway measures. To my colleagues in the Senate, some of whom are lukewarm to our proposal, I say, 'pay attention, the American public is making its views known'."

FTC staffers have argued that a do-not-spam list would be difficult to keep track of because of the sheer number of e-mail addresses people own and because e-mail addresses change frequently, and have also questioned whether a national do-not-spam list would be tough to secure and be used by spammers to send more unwanted e-mail, but Schumer said Wednesday his staff and the FTC were working through that concern.

On Monday, the Direct Marketing Association issued an alert asking its members to convince Schumer that a do-not-spam list is the wrong tactic in fighting spam. The group has argued that an e-mail registry would only hurt legitimate e-mail marketers who obey the rules, while rogue spammers would continue sending spam.

Grant Gross writes for IDG News Service

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