DMA Plans Operation Slam Spam

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The Direct Marketing Association is working on a proposal called Operation Slam Spam to create a caucus that will help put the biggest abusers of bulk mail out of business.

A recruitment letter went Aug. 8 to a portion of the DMA's 4,700 membership -- those who are specifically interested in the e-mail space -- to "identify spam operators who are violating existing laws, develop the cases and refer them to the appropriate state, federal or international prosecuting authorities."

The association is asking $65,000 per participating member in the letter signed by DMA president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen. This will help it work with federal law enforcement officials like the FBI, regulators and Internet service providers to terminate distributors of spam.

"There is no other group out there working with the FBI and devoting these kinds of high-level technical and financial resources to go after the preponderance of spammers -- about 300," said Louis Mastria, director of public and international affairs at the DMA.

The bulk of the money for the initiative is coming from the DMA directly, not from member participation, Mastria said, though he would not say how many the DMA expects to sign up for the initiative.

"We are supporting federal legislation on this issue and the criminalization of anybody who runs afoul of that legislation," he said. "So we're not looking for something to blunt legislation, we are looking for an additional tool to help support the legislation and stop spam."

The DMA wants to have the initiative operating by September or October. The initiative hopes to pre-empt tougher legislation that would jeopardize the fate of e-mail as a customer acquisition or retention tool. It prefers a milder solution than the strident anti-spam bills submitted to Congress and various state legislatures.

"State and federal lawmakers are focusing on this growing blight and are threatening to enact legislation that could have a significant negative impact on marketers," Wientzen is quoted as saying in the letter.

According to a report in The New York Times, background material was sent with the letter to help the direct marketing industry work with the National White Collar Crime Center for investigative support and training for the FBI and the Department of Justice, among others.


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