FTC Celebrates CAN-SPAM with Spam Suits

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission used the two year anniversary of the CAN-SPAM act to announce a grab-bag of legal actions against spammers.

At the two year anniversary of the CAN-SPAM act, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced legal actions against spammers, including joint operations with state attorneys general and the Canadian government.

On Tuesday, the FTC said it filed complaints against three spam operations accused of violating CAN-SPAM, and said Canadas, Competition Bureau and Attorneys General in Florida, North Carolina and Texas took action against or settled cases against five others.

Legal actions such as those announced Tuesday, coupled with new "best practices" mandated by CAN-SPAM have reduced the amount of spam Internet users receive, according to an FTC report on the act released Tuesday. However, spam experts say that the law has had a negligible affect on the overall amount of spam, and that greater international cooperation is needed to stamp out the problem.

On the legal front, the FTC said it took action against three spam operations that it accused of violating CAN-SPAM provisions.

The agency filed CAN-SPAM complaints in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Brian McMullen of BM Entertainment and Zacharay Kinion [CQ]. Both men are charged with misrepresenting the source and subject of e-mail solicitations, and failing to provide an "opt out" link or physical mailing address.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read the article: Junk Mail Beats Spam Again in 05.

The FTC worked with Proxypot.org to collect information on the spammers, according to Alan Curry of Logansport, Indiana, who founded the service. Proxypot sets up insecure computers to act as "honeypots" for spammers, who try to use them to forward spam messages.

The computers do not forward the messages, but capture information on the spammers, including the original source of the messages, Curry said.

Proxypot forwarded detailed information on two spammers onto the FTC, including CDs of spam messages sent through proxypot machines and the IP addresses from which the messages originated, he said.

Joining the FTC was the Canadian Competition Bureau, that countrys consumer protection agency.

The agency said that it settled cases against two spammers that operate out of that country.

/zimages/1/28571.gifRead more here about how the FTC proposed to tighten the CAN-SPAM Act in May of this year.

Canada does not have a law akin to CAN-SPAM, but goes after e-mail marketers it believes are misleading consumers, said Andrea Rosen, Assistant Deputy Commissioner of the Competition Bureau in an interview with eWEEK.

"We have a borderless crime here. (Spam) activity can go on in either country and victimize consumers in either country. Its better for us to work together to eliminate deceptive e-mail," she said.

Canada is one of the "top 10" sources of spam e-mail, but spamming activity there is "miniscule" compared to what goes on in the U.S., Rosenn said.

Next Page: The limitations of the CAN-SPAM act.