America’s Direct Marketing Association is throwing its weight behind attempts to clamp down on unsolicited commercial email, or spam as it is more commonly known.

The DMA, which previously opposed government regulation of direct marketing, is now calling for federal anti-spam legislation to be passed either this year or next. According to senior vp of government affairs Jerry Cerasale, the sheer weight of unsolicited emails is drowning out the messages of legitimate marketers. “The volume is so great that we have to have some sort of government intervention,” he explained.

The DMA joins firms such as America Online and Microsoft in seeking to combat spam. However, its conversion was met with suspicion from some consumer advocates, who fear the body is trying to push the government into passing insufficiently strict regulation.

Whereas some lobby groups demand a total ban on spam, the direct marketing body wants federal law to follow its own voluntary code, which requires marketers to ensure the recipient can unsubscribe. Firms breaching such obligations, the DMA suggests, should face fines of up to $11,000 (€10,214; £6,990).

A further motive behind the group’s support of federal regulation is to ensure a US-wide system is introduced. In the absence of a national law, some states are pursuing their own restrictions, raising fears that marketers will face a patchwork of different laws across America.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff