Spam is a meaty challenge for FTC

Spam is a meaty challenge for FTC

Spam presents the Federal Trade Commission with its most significant test, one that cannot be solved by legislation alone, the agency's top leader said at the Aspen Summit.

Instead, FTC must turn to technology, chairman Timothy J. Muris yesterday told industry and government officials at the IT conference in Colorado.

'No one should expect any new law to make a substantial difference by itself,' he said. 'Our experience, and that of the few states that have tried to punish spammers, is that it can take months of investigation, and sometimes a dozen or more subpoenas, simply to locate a spammer.'

But he said the solution to the problem would not come in the form of a 'Do Not Spam' log, similar to the recently instituted national 'Do Not Call' registry, which starting Oct. 1 bans telemarketers from calling consumers who register their phone numbers by Aug. 31.

A 'Do Not Spam' registry wouldn't stem the rising number of identities and e-mail addresses that spammers can invent. 'My advice to consumers would be: Don't waste the time and effort to sign up,' Muris said. 'Instead, recipients and Internet service providers [will] bear most of the costs.'

Rather, other new inventions, such as ISP spam filters, could be the only worthwhile means to stem the tide of spam. 'Eventually, the spam problem will be reduced, if at all, through technological innovations,' he said.


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