US legislators to get serious about spam?
The US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held hearings on the problem last week. According to the Register report, “The hearing … heard that spam costs US businesses $10 billion each year in lost productivity. According to Enrique Salem, president of spam blocking company Brightmail, nearly half of all e-mails sent are spam. This compared, he said, with just seven percent in 2001. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also seen an explosion in the number of complaints it receives from consumers about spam. In 2001, around 10,000 junk e-mails were forwarded to it each day from Internet users. That daily figure now stands closer to 130,000. Such evidence seems to be having the desired effect on American lawmakers. Although Congress has failed to crackdown on spam in the past, following pressure from some retailers, marketing firms and business users of e-mail, it appears that tighter regulation will be introduced some time this year. Two Senators, one Republican and one Democrat, have proposed a bill that would ban deceptive subject lines, require valid return addresses and order spammers to obey requests by e-mail users to stop sending them e-mail. In addition, Senator Schumer from New York wants an international anti-spam treaty. For its part, Microsoft is seeking increased penalties for fraudulent practices by spammers. It is also pushing for an electronic seal-of-approval system for legitimate marketers and for unsolicited mails to be labelled as such so that e-mail users could delete them without having to open them.”