The Do-Not-Call Registry Model is Not the Answer to Spam


Richard C. Balough


VOL. XXII • Fall 2003 • NO. 1 (table of contents)

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This article discusses why a system to combat unwanted Internet spam, or junk e-mail, should not be modeled after the Do-Not-Call registry developed to curtail telemarketing phone calls.

The Do-Not-Call registry is an "opt-out" system where consumers must place their phone numbers on a list that designates them as consumers unwilling to accept telemarketing calls. In the Internet spam context, this article argues that to force Internet users to place their e-mail addresses on a similar do-not-spam list could lead to potential problems. For example, if a would-be spammer was to get a hold of that list, she or he would have a list of virtually guaranteed to be valid e-mail addresses.

Instead of using an "opt-out" system, this article suggests the implementation of an "opt-in" system to control spam. In this instance, consumers would place their e-mail addresses on a list only if they wish to receive unsolicited e-mail. Further augmenting the "opt-in" system, the article suggests the assessment of fines for spam offenders and as an incentive for Web site maintainers to ensure the security of e-mail addresses received from their Web site visitors.

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