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Pushing the Wrong Button On Spam

The head of the Federal Trade Commission, Timothy J. Muris, spoke out recently against a proposed nationwide do-not-spam registry. The Washington Post and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) responded by putting a negative spin on Muris' remarks. But Muris is on target.

Muris thinks the do-not-spam registry would be largely ineffective. "If it were established, my advice to consumers would be: Don't waste the time and effort to sign up," he said. Bravo! The Washington Post's Aug. 20 headline, "Head of FTC Opposes Bills To Curb Spam," left out the key word--Ineffective--and Schumer, who is sponsoring the bill, said that something has to be done. We agree, but isn't doing something ineffective worse than doing nothing at all? This registry would be expensive to implement and maintain, and would do little to curb spam because spammers regularly mask their true identities, often operate overseas, and change their originating IP addresses as often as most of us change underwear.

Technology has made great strides toward weeding out unwanted e-mail, but there's still a long way to go. Effective legislation will have a role, but we're pinning most of our hopes on antispam technology.

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