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Anti-spam Law ˇ Mar 20 2004, 10:38 AM
Technology - Yahoo
Survey: Anti-Spam Law Not of Much Effect
Fri Mar 19, 1:18 PM ET Technology - AP, Yahoo!

PORTLAND, Ore. - A new federal law designed to halt e-mail spam has not had much effect on most American's computer inboxes, according to a new report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The report, which surveyed 1,371 Internet users, was taken only weeks after the federal bill became law, slightly blunting the survey results.

But some critics say the report supports their argument that more stringent anti-spam laws are necessary than those laid out in the bill authored by Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. and Conrad Burns, R-Mont.

The February survey found that of people with personal e-mail accounts, 24 percent said they received more spam since Jan. 1, 20 percent reported receiving less spam, and 53 percent haven't noticed a change.

The study noted one positive result: Of those who have received pornographic spam, 25 percent received less since Jan. 1, 16 percent are getting more, and 56 percent noticed no change.

"It was striking to see that across the board, except for pornography, it was getting worse." said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew project.

Under Wyden's law, if e-mail marketers do not let recipients opt out of future bulk e-mail messages, marketers face hefty penalties. It also cracks down on deceptive practices, such as misleading subject lines.

Wyden has said that to stem the tide of spam, his law must be combined with anti-spam technology, cooperation with governments of foreign countries where spam is generated and aggressive enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general. The FTC has not begun enforcing the law.

"It's premature to pass judgment on the Can Spam Act only 77 days after it's taken effect," Carol Guthrie, Wyden's spokeswoman, said. "Sen. Wyden has said all along that stemming the tide of spam would require a multipronged approach."

Consumer groups have criticized the Can Spam Act for overriding more stringent state laws.

California, for example, had passed a law that would allow Internet marketers to send e-mail only to customers who "opt in." Consumer advocates also say the law should allow e-mail recipients to sue spammers in small-claims court.

Last week, Internet service providers filed lawsuits against suspected illegal spammers under the act.

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