IAB, ESPC and TRUSTe Oppose Do-Not-E-Mail

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), TRUSTe and the NAI’s E-Mail Service Provider Coalition (ESPC) today issued a joint statement opposing the proposed Do-Not-E-Mail (DNE) registry. They say it will be prohibitively expensive, as well as difficult to secure and enforce.

The white paper echoes comments the ESPC and TRUSTe separately submitted to the Federal Trade Commission, which has sought public comment on how the CAN-SPAM act should be administered. Comments on the Do-Not-E-Mail portion of the law were due March 31.

The IAB, however, did not weigh in with the FTC. IAB President and CEO Greg Stuart said the body’s failure to comment stems from a prior board decision to avoid engagement in public policy issues due to limited resources.

“It’s not for any other reason than resource issues at this point,” said Stuart. “The IAB board has chosen for us not to be involved in a major way on public policy issues.”

Stuart said the IAB coordinated with ESPC and its Executive Director Trevor Hughes on the white paper, and considered its position to be closely aligned with that association’s views. He added he hopes the IAB will soon begin to include public policy in its initiatives.

“I hope to be able to make an announcement in the near future that we’re in a position to engage in public policy issues,” he said. “It’s certainly something trade organizations ordinarily do.”

Meanwhile, ESPC’s Hughes said the three associations issued the white paper “to ensure that the full chorus of opinions was heard on this.”

“We felt it was important — outside of the FTC comment period — to raise concerns associated with DNE registry for the public and for the media,” he said.

The 19-page white paper outlines reasons the associations believe implementing a DNE registry would be detrimental to both consumers and legitimate email senders. Further, the groups argue such a registry would stoke consumer anger by creating a false expectation that spam will decline.

“Consumers, believing they will receive no email, will actually continue to be plagued by the 83 to 85 percent of unwanted email currently sent by criminal spammers,” said Fran Maier, executive director and president of TRUSTe. “The focus should be on financial penalties that punish the bad guys, not the good guys.”

The arguments are familiar. Other industry groups weighed in with similar sentiments in recent weeks.

On March 31, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) publicly issued its opinion that creation of such a list would “do absolutely nothing to reduce spam in consumers’ inboxes while impeding the growth of legitimate e-commerce.”

A day earlier, the Association of National Advertisers urged the FTC to recommend against adoption of the registry in its report to Congress, arguing the list would “create major new security and privacy risks for consumers, as the government cannot develop a foolproof system for protecting the integrity of the list.”

Once the list is compromised, opponents fear, it could be mined for email addresses by the very spammers it is intended to thwart.

Although the FTC closed its comment period for the Do-Not-E-Mail portion of CAN-SPAM, it recently extended the deadline for public comment on other provisions of the law. Most notably, the agency is working to determine the primary purpose of an email message. Only messages deemed commercial fall under the law’s scope.

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