Canning Spam: Consumer Protection or a Lid on Free Speech?

By: Grant C. Yang

The United States Congress recently passed the first federal legislation to curb the influx of spam. However, the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (“CAN-SPAM Act”) left some measures to be enacted by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), and some consumers are calling for the Act to have a broader reach and for the creation of a Do-Not-E-Mail registry. Conversely, the FTC decided to delay the creation of a registry and opted to assist in the development of a new technological authentication system. This iBrief looks at the current state of spam and explains that it is too early to tell whether the effects of the CAN-SPAM Act warrant new anti-spam measures. In addition, it points out that it is questionable whether the FTC’s current authentication approach will be effective, and, thus, considers the possible First Amendment challenges to a Do-Not-Call registry as well as other possible anti-spam solutions. In the end, this iBrief postulates that the most effective option might be for the FTC to implement both a Do-Not-Email registry and an authentication system.

Cite: 2004 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 0016

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