Unsolicited Commercial Email, SPAM and the FTC

Most recently the Federal Trade Commission has put forth their requests for further budget funding for fiscal year 2007 and in this report to Congress for more taxpayer’s monies the FTC cited their efforts to curb SPAM. Yet many critics of the agency who have called it everything from incompetent to the Blob of Bureaucracy believe that the FTC has done little since the CAN SPAM Act to enforce this unsolicited commercial email. Here is what the FTC told the US Congress:


“Experts have estimated that spam (unsolicited commercial email) costs businesses between $10 billion and $87 billion annually. Additionally, consumers spend countless hours each year dealing with spam. The CAN SPAM Act provides the FTC with tools to address this issue.”

Perhaps they have the tools to address the issue, yet SPAM has increased not decreased under their watch. Additionally the FTC cites another piece of information:

“In April 2005, the FTC and the California Attorney General brought an action to halt an operation that sent millions of illegal spam messages touting mortgage loans and other products and services. The FTC’s Adult Labeling Rule and the CAN.SPAM Act require commercial e-mailers of sexually-explicit material to use the phrase SEXUALLY EXPLICIT:” in the subject line of the e-mail message and to ensure that the initial viewable area of the message does not contain graphic sexual images.”

If in fact the State of California can take care of this, why are we doubling up and paying the FTC to work on it too? This duplication has to be costing the US Taxpayers millions of dollars, is it not? Meanwhile the FTC’s report goes on to state:

“In 2005, the FTC filed suit against a network of individuals and corporations that used spam to sell access to online pornography, and charged seven companies with violating the labeling requirements of the Rule and the Act. The spammers paid $691 000 to settle the charges and agreed to injunctive relief.”

But one case is not sufficient at all. There are thousands of spammers out there and this one case is not even a drop in the bucket, surely the agency with all this power and weight and self-aggrandizement can do better than this? Yet the FTC always falls back to the more safe position when asking for money from Congress and stated:

“The FTC also continued to work on the rulemaking and reporting requirements mandated by the CAN-SPAM Act. In June 2005, the FTC issued a report to Congress on the use of subject line labeling for commercial email as a means to reduce spam, concluding that such labeling would not be an effective way to curb spam. December 2005, the FTC issued a report to Congress on the effectiveness and enforcement of the CAN.SPAM Act. That report concluded that, while the Act has helped to deliver some improvements, passage of the U.S. SAFE WEB Act, continued education efforts, and improvements in anti-spam technology also are needed.”

And there you have it folks rather than telling the US Congress that the FTC is incompetent they tell them they need more of our money to finish a job that they are failing at. Meanwhile we have Yahoo and AOL planning their own way to make money sending us SPAM and the FTC is going to do nothing about it. Consider the this in 2006.