Ken McEldowney remarks on Ban The Spam

Sept. 4, 2002 (Washington, DC)

I AM PLEASED TO BE HERE TODAY WITH TRAC AND NCL TO ADDRESS WHAT IS ALREADY ONE OF THE MOST PERSISTENT AND AGGRAVATING DAILY PROBLEMS FOR AMERICAN CONSUMERS … UNSOLICITED COMMERICAL EMAIL … SPAM.

BEFORE I BEGIN, A LITTLE BACKGROUND ABOUT CONSUMER ACTION …

FOUNDED IN 1971, THE SAN FRANCISCO-BASED CONSUMER ACTION IS A NON-PROFIT, MEMBERSHIP-BASED ORGANIZATION THAT SERVES CONSUMERS NATIONWIDE BY ADVANCING CONSUMER RIGHTS. YOU CAN FIND CA ON THE WEB AT WWW.CONSUMER-ACTION.ORG.

I AM HERE TODAY FOR A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT REASONS …

I WORRY MORE AND MORE WITH EACH PASSING MONTH THAT THE EXPLOSION IN SPAM EMAIL IS GOING TO CAUSE CONSUMERS TO TURN THEIR BACKS ON THE ENORMOUS CONSUMER EDUCATION POWER OF THE WEB. WE CAN DO A LOT MORE TODAY BECAUSE OF THE WEB … IT WOULD BE A CRYING SHAME IF CONSUMERS ENDED UP LESS ABLE TO EDUCATE THEMSELVES BECAUSE - AS A RESULT OF SPAM EMAIL ABUSES - THEY ARE GENERALLY TURNED OFF TO THE INTERNET.

DON’T THINK IT WON’T HAPPEN …

WE ALREADY HEAR STORIES ABOUT THE BURDEN OF JUNK EMAIL THREATENING TO DRIVE CONSUMERS AWAY FROM EMAIL ALTOGETHER. IT IS TIME FOR AMERICANS TO SAY THAT ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

WE HEAR COMPLAINTS FROM CONSUMERS ABOUT THEIR TIME THAT IS WASTED DEALING WITH SPAM … WORRIES ABOUT PRIVACY INVASIONS … THE FACT THAT PORNOGRAPHIC SPAM GOES OUT TO CHILDREN WITH EMAIL JUST AS IT DOES TO ADULTS.

I HAVE CONCLUDED THAT SPAM IS NOT ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT MARKET FORCES SOMEHOW WILL CORRECT MAGICALLY ON ITS OWN. AND THAT IS BECAUSE SPAM EMAIL REALLY IS THE CRACK COCAINE OF MARKETING – IT IS CHEAP, READILY AVAILABLE AND IRRESISTIBLE TO THE ADDICTS WHO USE IT OVER AND OVER …

I ENCOURAGE YOU TO READ THE PETITION THAT THE THREE CONSUMER GROUPS ARE FILING TODAY …

YOU NEED TO SEE THE ECONOMICS OF SPAM EMAIL -- WHERE SOMEONE CAN BLAST EMAIL THE WORLD AND REACH TENS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE FOR $100. WITH THOSE KIND OF NUMBERS, THIS PROBLEM IS NOT GOING TO GO AWAY ON ITS OWN. THERE ALWAYS WILL BE SOME HUCKSTER OUT THERE WHO WANTS TO CLOG YOUR EMAIL BOX …

YOU KNOW THE EMAILS TO WHICH I AM REFERRING …

YOU CAN EARN $5,600 A MONTH AT HOME …

GET VIAGRA WITHOUT A PRESCRIPTION …

WE ARE STILL WAITING FOR YOU TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE …

AND I’M NOT GOING TO TOUCH THE INCREASINGLY BIZARRE AND DISTURBING SEX-RELATED APPEALS THAT NOW ARE BECOMING MORE AND MORE COMMONPLACE.

EMAIL IS A WONDERFUL TOOL …

IT KEEPS PHONE BILLS DOWN. IT CONNECTS FAMILIES AND FRIENDS AND WORKPLACES IN WAYS THAT WERE UNIMAGINABLE JUST A DECADE AGO. FOR MANY LOW-INCOME AND OLDER CONSUMERS, EMAIL IS THE "GATEWAY" TO THE REST OF THE WEB – AND ALL THE CONSUMER EDUCATION POWER THAT IT CONTAINS.

BUT EMAIL IS IN DANGER TODAY OF BEING REJECTED BY CONSUMERS AS A RESULT OF AN EPIDEMIC OF ABUSIVE COMMERCIAL EMAIL … IF YOU THINK THAT CONSUMER USE OF EMAIL CAN SURVIVE ANYTHING THAT THE SPAMMERS THROW AT IT, YOU KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT CONSUMERS THAT I DON’T.

CONSUMER ACTION IS JOINING TRAC AND NCL TODAY IN FILING THE PETITION AT THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION BECAUSE THIS IS A "REAL PEOPLE" CONSUMER ISSUE THAT HAS TO BE ADDRESSED IN A MAJOR AND DIRECT WAY.

I ENCOURAGE CONSUMERS TO GO TO WWW-DOT-BAN-THE-SPAM-DOT-COM AND TELL THEIR HORROR STORIES. WE CAN STILL SAVE EMAIL BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE – BUT IT’S GOING TO TAKE A LOT OF PEOPLE TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

THANK YOU. I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR QUESTIONS …

 

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