CAN-SPAM Act of 2003

SPAM – The Email Devil!

“We are already paying economic costs of fight spam, and broader social costs will likely follow. The Internet was begun on a foundation of open access, one that spammers are taking mighty advantage of as they launch their free-for-all attacks on Internet users.” 
“SPAM” Deborah Fallows, Senior Research Fellow, Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2003

What led to the CAN-SPAM Act?

By the early 2000s  individuals and organizations were enjoying the advantages of email.  I suggest that email contributed largely to allowing businesses to do business globally.  For business, email allowed for free instantaneous communication.  For individuals, email allowed friends and family to connect across the miles or next door and share information, photos and videos. There is no cost for email other than the cost of the Internet Service Provider (IS). A 2011 study on users of search and email  by Pew Internet and American Life Project, found that 92 percent of adults send or read email.  With the popularity of social media and text messaging, it’s not clear if this figure has risen or decreased, especially among individuals.  This subject begs for further research.

Email, however, had its dark side, business and individuals were receiving unsolicited emails from marketers, and in some cases, criminals using email for fraud.  A 2003 study by Deborah Fallows, Senior Research Fellow at Pewm found that “23% of email users say the ever-increasing volume of spam has reduced their overall use of email; 60% of that group has reduced their email use in a big way” (p. ii).

Email is not only annoying, it can be dangerous.  We have heard countless stories of email users who have been duped into giving out personal information, such as bank account numbers, to scammers who can withdraw money from their accounts.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the government agency charged with protecting consumers from fraudulent activities on ground and online. By early to mid-2000 it became clear that SPAM was becoming a major concern among private and business users. A 2003 FTC survey of 2,500 randomly selected adults found that of all types of media where fraud occurs only 14 percent occurred on the Internet and email. Only 4.7 participants were 65 and older. This low figure is perhaps a reflection of the number of Internet users and the fears of the Internet and email experienced by older adults.  According to data from the Internet World Stats, in 2003 there were only 719 million Internet users world-wide.  In June 2012 there were 2,405 million users and of those 528.7 were from North America. By March 2013 there were 2,749 million users of those 245,203,319 million users were in the U.S.

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