'Do not spam' lists find skeptics

Frustrated Internet users inundated with unwanted get-rich-quick schemes and herbal Viagra offers may have noticed a new, unsolicited pitch promising to reduce the amount of "spam" e-mail they receive.

Pointing to Web sites with names like remove.org and globalremoval.com, the messages promise -- for a nominal fee -- to stop spam at its source by placing their addresses on a "do not spam" registry. The services say they have hit on a novel and cheap way to reduce spam, and point to bulging customer lists as proof. Government and private-sector experts say such "do not spam" services are not likely to work because marketing firms are under no obligation to comply. "It's probably not worth signing up. You can get plenty of spam for free," said Howard Beales, head of the Federal Trade Commission's consumer-protection division.

Inspired by FTC initiative?

Ironically, many of the do-not-spam services may have been inspired by an FTC initiative -- the telephone "do not call" list that promises to keep most telemarketers at bay, starting in October. The popularity of the anti-telemarketing list and the success of similar state-level programs have prompted some to call for a "do not spam" list. The FTC and many technology experts say a government-backed "do not spam" list would do little good, as spammers, unlike telemarketers, often cloak their identities and thus could easily escape punishment. Also, some marketers might view the list as a tempting trove of valid e-mail addresses to sell to other spammers

News source: CNN

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