Spam Law Worth the Effort

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People in the anti-spam community keep raving about how good California's spam law would have been and asking how could Congress override it with the CAN-SPAM Act, or as It's the Law columnist Andrew Lustigman calls it, the California Anti-Spam Disaster Relief Act. The only people who would have been happy with California's spam law would have been bounty-hunting lawyers going after legitimate businesses not intending on breaking any law instead of the fly-by-night spam operators that clog most of our inboxes.

Anti-spammers say CAN-SPAM overrules three dozen state laws that are more restrictive. OK, if they're all that effective, how come the problem is getting worse, not better? Also, some people are calling it the Yes, You Can Spam Act. Spamhaus wrote: "23 million U.S. businesses can all begin spamming all U.S. email addresses as long as they give users a way to opt-out. ... Anyone with any sense would of course realize that if CAN-SPAM becomes law, opting out of spammers lists will very likely become the main daytime activity for most U.S. email users in 2004. The second main activity will be sorting through mailboxes crammed with 'legal' spam every few minutes to see if there's any email amongst the spam."

Now, why would 23 million businesses start sending e-mails just because it's legal? It was legal before and they weren't doing it. It's also legal for people to wear a purple polka-dotted tie to work every day of the week, but will everyone do that just because someone reminds them that they can? CAN-SPAM is far from perfect, but it's a start. It took Congress five years to get to this point. Legislation alone won't solve the problem, but this is a first step. Let's see what it does.

Search Is the Word

It's tough to find a hotter topic these days than search engine marketing. Someone's figured out that there are 625 million searches conducted online every day, and there's even a new association -- SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization -- carrying the search torch. Want to know more? Then subscribe to DM News' newest e-newsletter, Search Engine Marketing, which debuts Jan. 6. To subscribe, send an e-mail with your first and last name,

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