I recently sent my new congressman one of my regular mailings to elected officials regarding spam. I'm sad to say that past responses to my letters have been very weak; Congressman Sarbanes' was no different. He did send me a copy of a Congressional Research Service report titled "'Spam': An Overview of Issues Concerning Commercial Electronic Mail." (There is an older, published version, dated September 6, 2006, here.)
This report is somewhat disappointing. It does provide an excellent overview of the history of spam and past government action regarding spam, as well as the provisions of CAN-SPAM. However, it misses four of my five talking points about spam and it completely ducks the issue of how unsolicited messages were handled for fax transmissions, which I consider a vital point. The report describes all the issues with approximately the same tone, giving them approximately the same weight. It is not an action document by any means and I don't see how our elected representatives can draw any reasonable conclusions from it.
The most interesting thing in the report is the following, from page 8 (emphasis is mine):
During consideration of the CAN-SPAM Act, then-FTC Chairman Timothy Muris and other FTC officials repeatedly expressed skepticism about the advisability of a Do Not Email registry despite widespread public support for it.22
And in footnote 22 we find:
A survey by the ePrivacy Group found that 74% of consumers want such a list.
No kidding! The spam problem affects anyone with an email address, so it's no surprise to see a result like that. So why isn't something being done about it?