Will spammers label their hardcore messages
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that
spammers must include the warning 'SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT: ' in the
subject lines of their pornographic emails or face fines.
Spammers will be in violation of federal law if they do not
clearly label their sexually orientated messages. However,
anti-spam experts at Sophos believe that hardcore spammers will
simply ignore the FTC's instructions.
"Of course it would be great if spammers clearly labelled their
spam for what it is - but what's in it for them?," said Graham
Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Spammers have a
history of disguising their email messages so they appear as
innocent communications. This system is doomed to failure - if
spammers would really follow such a ruling, why not tell them to
label all of their messages with the subject line 'SPAM:'? That
would make life easier for all of us!"
The FTC's rules follow the controversial CAN-SPAM Act and are
designed to protect email recipients from being unwittingly exposed
to unwanted sexual images in spam messages. The FTC has also
declared that spam messages should not contain sexual images, but
can include links to sites which do contain adult content.
"No-one is questioning that the FTC's intentions are entirely
honourable in wanting to protect innocent people from internet
filth, and it might make it easier to fine spammers who don't
comply, but it is hard to believe this ruling will change the
behaviour of the spamming community. Even if it did, it's difficult
to imagine how it would be implemented - would there be a panel to
decide whether emails offering viagra should be classified as
offensive? One man's raunchy email is another's risque lingerie
catalogue," continued Cluley.
The FTC ruling comes into effect from 19 May 2004. More details
can be found on the FTC's website.
A recent study
by Sophos revealed that the USA is the largest producer of spam in
the world. Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a
consolidated solution which can defend
businesses from the threats of both spam and viruses.