The FTC is asking for public comment on the 14 year old law known as the CAN-SPAM Act. The law, which stands for "Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act" was passed to try and deter the use of abusive and unwanted email. However, the law has fallen far short of it's original intent.
I do believe the initial intent was good. However, the law that passed ended up being lobbied to death and in the end it was a law written by the major email players of the day (Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL). The law prevented citizens from suing email marketers directly, it was/is a real mess. Further, the law is rarely enforced by the feds. In fact many people call it the YOU-CAN-SPAM-ACT because it does little to no good.
I can give you an example that proves the point directly, I personally receive two email messages on a semi-regular basis from a certain U.S. Congressman whom I have unsubscribed from many, many, many times and the messages keep coming back. This elected government official's office is ignoring the regulation. So if he ignores it, why would anyone else follow it? The law has done nothing to curb the problem.
How big is the problem?
Our research can tell you that 95% of all email is considered unwanted. If you remove the legit but unwanted emails, such as newsletters from your local grocery store you signed up for to get the discount, the result is still in the high 80's.
I remember a podcast I was listening to years back that said that email was going away and Twitter and Facebook were the communication avenue of the future. Well we all know that never panned out.
The future of email...
Truth be told, email is here to stay and the problem of SPAM is only growing. I will even go on the record to say email will be here forever in some form. It is simply the best way to conduct business and get a record of that transaction. Twitter and Facebook can't do what email does. Organized people love it and employers love it to communicate with employees and institutions love it to communicate with clients. I personally use email as a partner in my to-do list.
What to do about it?
I am working with people at my firm to build the most decisive anti-spam tools on the market. And while we are doing that I am going. to advocate for change on the so called SPAM laws in this country. Our company engages in the Opt-In-Only rules where you have to tell us to send you a newsletter. Most companies employ an opt-out mentality. Opt-In follows closely to the rules the EU implemented.
Please take a moment and send in your comments to the FTC on the CAN-SPAM laws and let's enact rules that can actually help the problem. You can do that on the FTC's page here. To learn more on our anti-spam technology you can check that out here.