Internet Users Want Laws To Control Junk

Email Essay, Research Paper

Internet Users Want Laws to Control Junk EmailBut Don’t Want a Total BanDo we need laws to control junk email (unsolicited email) on the web? According to the results of our 1997 Junk Email Survey, the majority of electronic mail users say yes, we need laws. However, most do not think the laws should ban all unsolicited mail.The survey was conducted from June 23 – July23,1997 on our Business Know-How web site ( and through Attard Communications’ Business Strategies Forum on America Online. It asked survey takers three questions: Did they feel laws were needed to control unsolicited mail; did they think it should be illegal to “harvest” email addresses from newsgroups or member directories, and which of three bill that were introduced into Congress they would favor. There was also space for leaving additional comments. A total of 1079 Internet and online service users completed the survey.Desire for Controls Growing”The results show a marked increase since last fall in the percentage of people who want to see laws regulating unsolicited email,” says Janet Attard, president of Attard Communications. “In a survey we conducted in September, 1996, 64 percent of the survey takers favored government regulation of junk email. The results of the survey we just completed show that number has now climbed to 74.8 percent.”A majority of people who completed the current survey (64.9 percent) also favored laws against “harvesting” of email addresses from bulletin boards, newsgroups and member directories.Only a Minority Want to Ban All Unsolicited EmailDespite those results, only 20.9 percent (225 individuals) favored the widespread ban on junk email that has been proposed in Senator Chris Smith’s (R-NJ) Netizens Protection Act. Thirty-four percent (369 individuals) favored Sen. Frank H. Murkowski’s (R-AK) Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Choice Act, which would require senders of unsolicited mail to include the word “advertisement” in the subject line of the mail. There were 28.2 percent (305 people) who favored Senator Torricelli’s Electronic Mailbox Protection Act, which would target email abusers by making it illegal to send unsolicited bulk email from unregistered domains or fictitious email addresses to disguise the source of the email or prevent replies.

Only 14 percent (153 individuals) wanted no laws. About 2.5 percent of survey takers had no opinion on which bill should be implemented.Abuse of Email Causes Most AnnoyanceWhile no one bill that’s been introduced in Congress came out a winner in the survey, Attard says “The survey data and comments we received indicate people are frustrated by the abuse of email, particularly by companies advertising get rich quick schemes and X-rated web sites. They also are particularly annoyed by companies that send mail anonymously and provide no way to get off mailing lists, or ignore requests to be taken off the list.”Typical of the complaints about junk email were comments such as these: “Many of the advertisements are for buying and using bulk mailer software (i.e., floodgate and related programs). Also, many use deceptive subject lines.”"Junk email should be banned. It is an intrusion of my personal time and productivity.”"It’s gotten worse than the phone ringing at dinner time”"I have accidentally deleted some of my real mail just because there was so much on my screen from spammers.”"My email address is accessible to a vastly greater number of people than my house address, which makes me feel too vulnerable.”"I don’t mind getting unsolicited mail. However, I do object to unregistered domains and fictitious e mail addresses and not being able to be removed from a mail list by simply using “Reply”.”DO SOMETHING PLEASE”Those who did not want any controls had comments such as these:”An e-mail address is a mail box. I should be no more regulated than regular mail. I throw unwanted snail mail in the trash. I use my delete button for e-mail! “”We do marketing for several non-profit organizations. We often use email to broadcast press releases to media outlets or to individuals whom we have reason to believe may be interested in that association.. Our concern is the definition of “junk e-mail,” “unsolicited mail” and “spamming.” “We have entirely too much government interference in everything we do already. Why do we need more to protect us from ourselves?”"Regulation such as this can only damage free enterprise.”Complete data obtained from the survey are available in tabbed text format and as a FileMaker Pro file.


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