At FTC Summit, DMA Members Lead Discussions on Combating Spam; FTC Chairman Majoras Praises DMA's Authentication Work
July 12, 2007 ľ While enormous strides have been made in recent years to combat the problem of spam, unwanted and potentially harmful emails remain a problem for many Americans. For the past two days, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has joined with other thought leaders who have gathered in Washington to explore consumer protection issues surrounding spam, phishing, and malware.
The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) two-day “Spam Summit: The Next Generation of Threats and Solutions,” has brought together experts from business, government, consumer advocacy groups, and academia for a series of roundtables on how these various sectors can work together to combat spam.
In a panel discussion this afternoon on what the business community can do to help consumers distinguish legitimate business messages from malicious spam, Jerry Cerasale, DMA’s senior vice president for government affairs, outlined six steps that businesses should take to maintain the integrity of their email communications.
Email authentication, a key topic throughout the conference, was at the top of Cerasale’s list. DMA, he noted, has required its members to authenticate outbound emails since January 2006.
In her opening remarks, FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras praised the DMA for being among the first groups to mandate such action.
“Just as we can ask visitors to swipe identification badges and use biometric identifiers to verify who is entering our physical space, we can use authentication technology to verify who is entering our electronic space,” said Majoras. “This technology, paired with reputation and accreditation systems, holds the greatest promise for preventing spammers from operating anonymously.”
In speaking about authentication, Cerasale noted the difficulties many companies are having in adopting authentication protocols. He stressed that as authentication efforts move forward, the various tools on the market must remain easy to use, inexpensive, and compatible with other systems. He also pointed out one of the key mistakes companies make when adopting authentication protocols — not authenticating every email domain.
To help guide its members through the authentication process, DMA launched an online Email Authentication Help Center (http://www.the-dma.org/emailauthentication) earlier this year. Also, DMA this week announced that it will partner with Return Path to develop a Web-based Email Reputation Registry that will help DMA members benchmark their progress against authentication and other key reputation indicators.
In addition, Cerasale focused on the need for businesses and individuals to improve the security of their computers and servers. “The vast majority of fraudulent Web sites, phishing emails, and spam that continue to plague consumers originates from unsecured individual addresses and commercial servers that have been taken over by spammers,” he said. “One of the most important things organizations and individuals can do to combat spam is to make sure their servers are secure.”
Cerasale encouraged businesses to regularly monitor the delivery of emails by checking bouncebacks, examining opt-out rates, seeding lists, and to make certain that partner companies that provide assistance in creating lists or delivering emails are reputable and operating in compliance with legal requirements and industry best practice standards.
Cerasale also stressed the importance of keeping mailing lists up to date and accurate. “Email addresses change much more rapidly than postal addresses or phone numbers,” he said. “Spend the resources here before you send the message.”
In addition to Cerasale, DMA was well represented at the two-day event. Many of the featured panelists and speakers came from organizations that are members of DMA, including: AOL, Cisco Systems, Inc., Consumer Reports, EMC, Epsilon, Go Daddy, Goodmail, Habeas, IBM Internet Security Systems, Microsoft, Return Path, StrongMail, TrustE, and Yahoo.
Most of the featured speakers take an active part in DMA’s Interactive Marketing Advisory Board and Email Experience Council (recently merged with DMA’s Email Marketing Council), where they work to shape DMA’s self-regulatory efforts and best practice guidance for email marketers.
More information about DMA’s efforts to combat spam can be found at http://www.the-dma.org/antispam.
# # #
back to top