Tuesday, November 26, 2002

blacklists and the FTC

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the agency leading the battle against unwanted and unsolicited commercial emails in the U.S. Washington is interested in the problem. We even have lobbyists joining together at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to discuss how to lessen those emails.

News that the FTC has become the first federal agency to turn to email blacklists has a number of people concerned that their rights to access to the government are being infringed. Some companies filtering emails based upon blacklists that they compile from spam reports have been described as overzealous in their attempts to thwart unsolicited commercial email. I appreciate the efforts that many of these companies are making, but there are signs that some of the criticism leveled their way might be warranted. The irony is that a number of messages sent by email to the FTC either reporting spam, or on methods and ideas to fight spam, have been blocked [according to the news reports] by at least one of the blacklists which the FTC is using. This is a technology in its infancy, and it needs time to grow and develop. But, in the mean time, the mail may not be getting through.

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