Mar 182008

A Flurry of CAN-SPAM Activity – Is It Meaningful?

A Flurry of CAN-SPAM Activity – But Is It Meaningful?

Our four-year old oft maligned anti-spam legislation in this country, the CAN-SPAM act, has seen an uptick of activity this past week. 

Melinda Krueger sums up the sentiments of many in the anti-spam community in her Email Insider column today when she says,

There is no provision in the act against sending unsolicited email as long as you comply with the rest of the act. The motivation of the act was more to make voters feel politicians were doing something about this annoying problem.

In the last two days, however, we got news of ValueClick’s $2.9 million settlement with the FTC over a CAN-SPAM violation (the largest ever), as well as notorious hardcore spammer Robert Soloway pleading guilty on a variety of charges for Really Bad Things, probably including spamming (I’ve read differing reports of his plea, some of which include the CAN-SPAM violation, and some of which don’t).

I’ve never felt that CAN-SPAM did all that much to stop sneaky practices.  It has loopholes so large you can drive a semi through it.  People joke that the law means, “yes, you CAN spam.”  Yet, the law does seem to be doing at least a little of what it was intended to do, which is give the federal government the teeth to go after the bad guys. 

Soloway undoubtedly is a bad guy.  ValueClick may or may not be a bad guy, depending on who you talk to.  But, weak as the law may be, public fines and convictions for violations of CAN-SPAM will ultimately start to impact both the black hats and the grey hats.  Let’s just hope the feds keep up their enforcement work!

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