Spam continues to flow'unabated

Spam continues to flow'unabated

Despite legal restrictions imposed on unsolicited commercial e-mail by the Can-Spam Act, unwanted e-mail accounted for about three out of every four messages examined by a major e-mail manager last month.

'We don't see it abating at all,' said Andrew Lochart, director of product marketing for Postini Inc. of Redwood City, Calif. 'The trend is still clearly up.'

The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 outlaws deceptive advertising in e-mail and requires that spammers include information about the sender of the e-mail and give the recipient the opportunity to opt out of receiving the mail. The law, which took effect early this year, provides for civil and criminal penalties.

A number of large service providers have filed civil suits against identified and unidentified spammers, but the Federal Trade Commission has announced no actions.

Of the 1.2 billion pieces of e-mail examined by Postini last month for the 2,700 customers of its e-mail management service, 77 percent were spam. That was up from 76 percent in February.

Lochart said the percentage of spam now hovers between 75 and 80 percent, and he expects the figure to creep up to 85 percent by year's end.

The federal law is not a practical tool for controlling spam, he said. Spammers are still successfully hiding their identities, Lochart said.

In one case, FTC had to issue more than two dozen subpoenas to track down someone it could sue, FTC staff attorney Brian Huseman said.

'It's good news that the government recognizes this problem and treats e-mail as an important part of the Internet infrastructure,' Lochart said. 'But we don't see how it can help very much. If you can't find the bad guys, you can't punish them.'

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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