Anti-spam legislation not effective, FTC chief says

Internet users fed up with the seemingly endless flow of spam should pin their hopes on technological solutions rather than...

Internet users fed up with the seemingly endless flow of spam should pin their hopes on technological solutions rather than legislative ones, a US regulator said this week.

"No one should expect any new law to make a substantial difference by itself," US Federal Trade Commission chairman Timothy Muris told a group of business executives and government officials at a conference in Aspen, Colorado on Tuesday.

The commissioner's remarks, released in a statement by the FTC, come in the wake of a handful of anti-spam bills that have been introduced in the past year.

Muris warned that some of the proposed legislation could actually make it more difficult to prosecute spammers. One bill, for example, makes suing spammers more complicated than it already is under the FTC act and another requires prosecutors to prove that a spammer has falsified their identity in 10,000 different e-mails before a charge can be made.

Part of the problem of tracking down spammers is their ability to retain anonymous and the low cost of sending unsolicited commercial e-mails, Muris said.

"Eventually, the only way spam will be reduced, if at all, is through technological innovation... legislation cannot do much to solve the problem," he added.

The commissioner called on internet service providers to help end-users report spam more easily and said the FTC would continue to investigate new technologies to fight the problem.

Muris said combating spam, "is one of the most daunting consumer protection problems the FTC has ever faced."

Scarlett Pruitt writes for IDG News Service

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