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CAN-SPAM Gives Email a Makeover

By Marissa Rodriguez

In today’s digital world, email is one of the main ways we contact each other. 14 years ago, Congress signed a set of rules called the CAN-SPAM Act designed to protect consumer privacy and limit the amount and type of unsolicited marketing messages they receive. This could also be applied to text messaging.  Along with the guidelines set, financial penalties were also applied for those who don’t follow the rules. Recently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided to review this act and audit its effectiveness, compliance costs, and need for amendment to reflect socioeconomic and technology changes.

While there is debate about the current law’s effectiveness, one thing is clear – stricter rules for email use could prove to be a step in a positive direction when it comes to protecting against email phishing, malware, and improving overall cyber security.

CAN-SPAM 101

Spam are those junk emails that clog up your inbox that including offers, bonuses, or unwanted sales emails. CAN-SPAM sets rules by establishing requirements for spam mail that provides an opt-out for recipients and breaks down the penalties involved for violations. Critics believe that although this act has good intentions, it was not made in a way that actually prevents commercial emails and enforces the regulations.

The FTC has stated they are currently accepting feedback from any interested parties to provide insight on the efficiency, costs, benefits and regulatory impact of CAN-SPAM. If you would like to contribute to this, you can find the form here.

What does this mean for you?

It is estimated that 65% of all emails sent today are spammy in nature. Many times, this comes in the form of phishing, which is the fraudulent practice of sending emails pretending to be well-known businesses to entice individuals to reveal personal information.

Due to the high volume of spam emails many of us receive each day, taking a proactive approach to email safety is necessary to keep you and your computer safe. The FTC recommends many email safety tips including:

  • using an email filter
  • limiting your exposure by creating two different email addresses: 1 for personal – 1 for shopping
  • checking the privacy policy before submitting personal information
  • choosing a unique email name

Proactively protecting your computers from hackers will not only protect you, but also fellow citizens. A better protected environment makes it harder for hackers to install malware (hidden software) and control computers remotely (a technique hackers often use to send even more spam). You can take simple steps to protect your device, such as disconnecting from the internet while you are away from the computer, being cautious before opening random attachments and files, and avoiding downloading free software from untrusted sites.

Making the world a Safer Place

The cyber war impacts us all, worldwide. It is important to always stay informed about what you can do to keep yourself safe from spammers, hackers, and phishing. Take a moment to provide your feedback to the FTC and let them know how spam has impacted you. It is one step in the fight against cyber crime.

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