US laws dictate that hardcore messages must include an explicit
Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global
network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have welcomed
news that a pornography company has been fined of $465,000 for
sending spam emails which did not include a warning indicating they
included sexually explicit content.
According to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Nevada-based
TJ Web Productions, which operates dozens of websites containing
adult photographs and videos, have widely distributed sexually
explicit emails since May 2004.
Under FTC rules spammers must include the warning
'SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT: ' in the subject lines of their pornographic
emails or face fines. Spammers who do not clearly label their
sexually orientated messages are in violation of federal law.
As part of the settlement, TJ Web Productions has agreed to
adhere to federal spam laws in future email campaigns.
Additionally, emails will now have to include an opt-out email
contact and postal address.
"This is another victory for the good guys trying to clean up
innocent peoples' inboxes from unwanted and unpleasant content, and
it sends a warning shot across the bows of other spammers that they
could be facing substantial penalties," said Graham Cluley, senior
technology consultant for Sophos. "The FTC guidelines on marking
sexually explicit spam are unpopular amongst the spammers, because
it makes it easier to identify unsolicited hardcore messages and
prevent them from reaching users. Anything which makes life less
profitable for spammers has to be good news for all of us."
TJ Web Productions, headquartered in Henderson, Nevada, is said
to have sent the emails through a third-party affilate network who
were paid to send emails on the company's behalf. Under the
settlement affiliates will also have to abide by the FTC rules.
Since the FTC and Department of Justice announced a crackdown on
explicit spam in July 2005, seven companies have been charged with
violating federal laws. According to the FTC, settlements have
resulted in fines totalling $1.62 million.
Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can defend businesses
from the threats of spam, spyware and malware.