FTC Proposes Adult Spam Label

The Federal Trade Commission submitted a proposed rule that would require unsolicited commercial e-mail with pornographic material to carry a mark in the subject line reading “SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT-CONTENT.”

The FTC approved publishing the proposal, required by the CAN-SPAM Act, in a 5-0 vote. It will accept public comment on the rule until Feb. 17.

The mark aims to let e-mail users easily filter e-mail they might find offensive, the FTC said, acting as “the electronic equivalent of a 'brown paper wrapper.' ” The rule would require the mark to be carried in capital letters at the start of subject lines of any e-mail that contains sexual material.

The proposed rule is the first of several that the FTC is charged with developing to enforce the CAN-SPAM Act. The biggest issue to resolve is the fate of the do-not-e-mail registry. The FTC must report to Congress before July 1 with a plan to implement the list, along with any concerns it has about security, privacy and technical feasibility. Commission officials have expressed skepticism about such a list's viability.

Other FTC tasks for the year include: develop rules for what qualifies as commercial e-mail; determine how well the 10-day waiting period for honoring unsubscribe requests is working; report on the effect of creating a bounty-hunter system for ferreting out spammers; and develop wireless-messaging rules.

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