FTC Pressures Congress for New Anti-Spam Powers

12 June 2003

The Federal Trade Commission is pressuring congressmen to give it greater authority to crack down on spam email.

Speaking before lawmakers in an energy and commerce subcommittee, the five commissioners who make up the FTC argued that the law needed to be changed to combat spam.

Specifically, the 1994 Telemarketing Act should be altered to give the Commission powers to act against “deceptive and abusive practices”.

The FTC then asked lawmakers to hand it the right to probe deceptive emails sent into the US from abroad, and to clarify the Electronic Communications Privacy Act so that the Commission can get hold of information from ISPs when investigating spam.

FTC chairman Timothy Muris also requested that Congress make clear whether spammers hacking an address of a legitimate ISP subscriber could be described as “unauthorised”, thereby reducing their legal protection.

Billy Tauzin, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he would alter the anti-spam legislation he recently proposed to address the Commissioner’s requests.

• Muris also revealed the sign-up date for the ‘do-not-call’ telephone marketing list may be advanced again.

Last week, the FTC revealed it had brought forward the date from which consumers can register online to July 1 in some areas [WAMN: 04-Jun-03]. That date may now be advanced again by up to a week.

Starting in October, telemarketers regulated by the FTC may not phone anyone on the list, risking fines of $11,000 (€9,339; £6,564) for each breach.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff