Spammers Ignore CAN-SPAM, Study Says

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Despite claims that the CAN-SPAM Act would give spammers legal cover to send unsolicited commercial e-mail, a study released yesterday by a spam-filtering company found that 90 percent of unsolicited commercial e-mail it attracted over the weekend failed to meet the law's requirements.

Audiotrieve, Boxborough, MA, said it analyzed 1,000 unsolicited commercial e-mail messages it received Jan. 10 and 11 in so-called honey-pot accounts set up to attract spam. It found that only 102 of the messages met CAN-SPAM Act requirements for a valid e-mail return address, honest subject line, physical address and unsubscribe function.

For the 102 that did comply, Audiotrieve did not try to verify the physical address or test the unsubscribe function. The inclusion of a physical address was the requirement most ignored. An address was missing in 898 messages. An unsubscribe option was missing from two-thirds of the e-mail.

The findings squared with those of another filtering company, MX Logic, which found just three messages out of 1,000 it blocked in the first week of the year complied with the new spam law. Brightmail and Postini both said they too saw little move to compliance from spammers. Anti-spam firms report that spam levels remained mostly the same the first week after the federal spam law took effect.

In an interview last week, Federal Trade Commission staff attorney Michael Goodman said that he saw few compliance problems with legitimate e-mail marketers. He said that, despite some reports of a grace period, the FTC would enforce the law for any violations that occurred after Jan. 1.

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