Law & Spam20 Jun 2005 01:35 am

In a report to Congress issued last Friday, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said it does not recommend requiring unsolicited commercial e-mail to include “ADV” or other labels in the subject line as a means to reduce spam.

In a 46-page report, which included a half-dozen citations to brilliant comments by this humble and faithful correspondent ;), the Commission’s report states that, although subject line labeling may appear to offer a simple legislative fix for the problem of spam, the Commission doubts that it would materially help consumers or ISPs to block or filter unwanted commercial e-mail. As the report notes:

Subject line labeling seems appealing because ISPs theoretically could preset their filters to screen out all email messages containing a particular label. However, subject line labeling is a rather crude way to filter and likely would not be very effective to combat spam because it would not distinguish spam from legitimate marketers’ UCE that some consumers may want to receive. Only lawabiding commercial emailers would label their UCE. Spammers would simply ignore such a requirement. … [As] a representative from PrivacyClue noted:

    The reality is that most spammers these days are still engaged in activities that range from marginally legal to quite illegal, and as a result, failure to comply with ADV is no great leap for them to make…

As the Kansas City Star reported, the Commission’s opinion was not unanimous. In a dissenting opinion, Commissioner Jon Leibowitz said:

“Requiring commercial e-mail to be labeled is not a panacea but, as the Can Spam Act clearly recognizes, there is no single bullet theory for solving the spam problem.” He also said he thought that Congress had in fact intended labeling as a device to help consumers deal with unsolicited commercial e-mail even from legitimate marketers.

Friends & Family & Podcast & Privacy & Spam21 Mar 2005 12:53 am

On tonight’s David Lawrence Show, I coach David on the finer points of being an annoyed gay man, in preparation for his audition for the role of Mark Bingham‘s boyfriend Matt Hall. Bingham was one of the heroes of Flight 93, who fought back against the hijackers on September 11, 2001, and prevented them from crashing into the Capitol or the White House (or wherever they were headed). We also talked about the differences between privacy and anonymity.

Later in the show, my Internet Privacy for Dummies co-author, Gregg Stebben, joins David to talk health and technology. Please spend the 25¢ and listen to Gregg’s segment too!

Too cheap to pay that? Well try David’s new Podcast for free!

Mobile Tech & News & Culture & Privacy & Spam & Tech21 Feb 2005 11:44 pm

Federal investigators lured a teenage extortionist to Los Angeles, where they arrested him for threatening to send SPIM (Spam sent via Instant Message) users of Also, the full scope of the ChoicePoint debacle is becoming clear. And Paris Hilton’s phonebook got hacked off T-Mobile’s servers. It’s another full plate of news for my usual hour of The David Lawrence Show.

Politics & Spam & Tech01 Feb 2005 04:32 pm

Diebold, makers of election stealing equipment, opens up the case on their buggy equipment and finds… PRINTERS! Oh, and I talk about why the CAN-SPAM Act sucks. On tonight’s edition of The David Lawrence Show.

Privacy & Spam21 Dec 2004 10:39 pm

In today’s installment of The David Lawrence Show, we talk about spam and John Perry Barlow’s recent run-in with the TSA’s bomb sniffing dogs, which apparently like the smell of magic mushrooms too. Only 25¢ for a whole hour of news and entertainment, for PayPal and BitPass users! And no, I don’t get a cut.

Spam20 Dec 2004 10:22 am

In this month’s column for, I take a look at the first anniversary of the passage of the CAN-SPAM Act, and why I think it has been a big success for spammers.

Spam14 Dec 2004 11:21 pm

Tonight I was on The David Lawrence Show talking about a new court decision in Maryland, invalidating a state spam law on Commerce Clause grounds. As usual, users of PayPal can sign up for BitPass and listen to the whole hour for only 25¢. What a bargain!

Law & Spam & Tech30 Nov 2004 11:20 pm

Tonight on the David Lawrence Show, I discussed why Lycos Europe’s idea of fighting spam with more spam is not only wrong-headed, but was deemed so by even the most spittle-spewing rabid anti-spammers nearly a decade ago.

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