CAN-SPAM Act - Is it working? You Decide.

by Tom Adelstein

As I delete spam from my Gmail spam folder, I notice the volumes increasing. A year ago, I would see about five to ten emails a day in that folder. This morning, I woke up to 56 items. The volume of spam has grown, no doubt.

The acronym CAN-SPAM comes from the Congressional legislation's name: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003. The FTC has the responsibility of policing the Act. Of course, we all know what that means, the FTC will do little or nothing to enforce the legislation.

All I see in the world of spam is compliance by the major corporations. They do follow the rules and that puts a refreshing light on some things, such as taking the act seriously. But then, I see hundreds of thousands of emails from foreign and US based people who continue to pummel mail boxes across the world.

What are the rules? Following are the basic rules:

The bill permits e-mail marketers to send unsolicited commercial e-mail as long as it contains all of:

* an opt-out mechanism;
* a valid subject line and header (routing) information;
* the legitimate physical address of the mailer; and
* a label if the content is adult.

Billy Bob OEM Software complies with none of the above. You probably will not see an opt-out mechanism or a legitimate physical address. Though I did see an opt-out link at the bottom of an email from an Insurance Company getting their mailing list off of job boards like Monster, Dice, ComputerJobs and so on.

I hate those emails that say: We reviewed your resume and have the perfect opportunity for you, Mr. Edelsteen. I clicked the opt-out link and got a web page that did nothing. I also found no physical address.

Speaking of the job boards, I did find out another interesting factoid. If a recruiter obtains a job order, let's say from IBM, he or she sends out a search bot through the job boards, then turns around and emails everyone that has a fresh resume up. The recruiter or staffing firm doesn't keep a database any more. So, don't waste your time. (Or should I have written waist your time?)

If you use Monster for example, repost your resume everyday and you'll notice people sending you emails and calling. The older the resume, the less likely recruiters will attempt to reach you. You'll also notice an offer for $1000 or so to refer someone to the recruiter.

A little over a month ago, I started receiving emails and phone calls from what seemed like a couple of dozen firms. They all had the same job requirement: A technical writer for IBM in McKinney, Texas.

I speak a little Hindi and found out that many of the recruiters called from places like New Delhi. One had an email address from a firm in San Francisco and another from Boston. I bet you already know that an opt-out mechanism didn't exist.

(Off topic note:) I also find it humorous that the recruiters from New Delhi have names like Brandon and Chad. Then, my DSL support group also operates out of New Delhi and I've heard the phrase, "This is Susie, can I be helping you?" I be telling you, those girls names probably are not Susie, Claire, Melissa, Sally Ann or Jennifer. But then again, that's for you to decide.

Do you consider all this email off the job boards as spam? I do. Fortunately, I found a job quickly and pulled my resume. The spam from the recruiters stopped almost instantly. But or should I use another word? But, the spam from the recruiters had a fast replacement. Now, I'm getting spam from all the job boards on which I posted my resume and other job sites about whom I have never heard.

We need a new strategy for spam. We should replace the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 and delegate the authority to Texas. We can call that the Death Penalty for Spammers Act of 2007. We could put former republican judges in charge. Two strikes and your out eh.

Of course, those folks who merely send confirmations of purchases made over the Internet would have an exemption. Also, if a company followed the rules stated above for the Federal Act could also have an exemption.

But Fuzzy OEM software guy blasting out second chance notices on auctions from eBay should fall under an extradition treaty with Texas which would allow the perpetrators a ticket to our facilities in Guantanamo Bay first for a tribunal hearing.

That's all I have to say about that, except, isn't this the 1st day of April? Run Forrest, Run.

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