Chairman McCain, Senator Hollings, Colleagues, Good Morning.
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for holding this hearing
to address Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail or Spam. I also
want to commend Senators Burns and Wyden for their leadership
and hard work on this issue.
I believe we are under siege. Armies of online marketers
have overrun email inboxes across the country with advertisements
for herbal remedies, get-rich-quick schemes and pornography.
As you are all aware, spam traffic is growing at a geometric
rate, causing the Superhighway to enter a state of virtual
gridlock. What was a simple annoyance last year has become
a major concern this year and could cripple one of the greatest
inventions of the 20th century next year if nothing is done.
Way back in 1999, the average email user received just
40 pieces of unsolicited commercial email - what we call
spam - each year. This year, the number is expected to pass
2,500. I know that I'm lucky if I don't get 40 pieces of
spam every couple of days!
As a result, a revolution against spam is brewing as the
epidemic of junk email exacts an ever increasing toll on
families, businesses and the economy.
Let me illustrate this point with a story. My wife and
I have two wonderful children, one of whom is just about
to complete her first year at college. The other, a 14 year-old
girl, is an absolute whiz on the Internet who loves sending
and receiving email.
As parents, we do our best to make sure she has good values
and that the Internet is a positive experience for her - a
device to help her with her schoolwork or learn about events
taking place around the world and, maybe even a way to order
the latest In Sync CD.
You can imagine my anger and dismay when I discovered that
not only was she a victim of spam like myself, but, like
all email users, much of the junk email she was receiving
advertised pornographic web sites. I was and remain virtually
powerless to prevent such garbage from reaching my daughter's
inbox. The frustration I feel in the battle against spam
is one that I think business owners and Internet Service
Providers across that nation can identify with.
According to Ferris Research, spam costs businesses in
the United States $10 billion each year in lost productivity,
consumption of Information Technology resources and help-desk
time. With surveys showing that over 40% of email traffic
qualifies as spam, ISPs spend millions of dollars each year
on research, filtering software and new servers to deal with
the ever expanding volume of junk email being sent through
And, if the spam itself isn't enough, spammers often engage
in crimes such as identity theft and fraud to secure email
addresses and domain names from which to send millions of
pieces of junk email.
All of this demonstrates that it's time to take back the
Internet from the spammers. And why I am joining you today
in saying that enough is enough.
We all know that spammers use a variety of tools and methods
to send millions of email messages each day. In order to
be effective, I believe spam solutions will have to be as
creative and varied as the spammers' efforts.
We should give law enforcement officials, ISPs and others
a wide variety of tools to fight spam. Among the possible
solutions that are exist - and this is not an exhaustive
list - are pending legislation in the Senate and the House
the would enact anti-email harvesting provisions and special
email labeling requirements; stipulate valid unsubscribe
features; and prohibit false and fraudulent header, router
and subject line information.
And that's just a start. As I said before, because of the
dramatic challenges we face in stemming the spam flood, we
need a multi-pronged approach.
In particular, I believe stiff criminal penalties - including
jail time for repeat offenders - are warranted. I am working
with my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee on a bill to
create these new penalties.
We will hunt down spammers one by one, using criminal penalties
to show what will happen to those who continue to send junk
Another idea I have offered is a National No-Spam Registry.
This list, maintained by the Federal Trade Commission, would
be a gigantic database of people who have "opted out" of
receiving spam by submitting their email addresses to the
The list is modeled on the highly successful Do-Not-Call
registries that have been used to ward off telemarketers.
Although a similar list for email addresses poses security
challenges that must be addressed before implementation,
I am hopeful that this list might be one way we can give
consumers control over their in-boxes.
None of these solutions will be the silver bullet that
stops all spam. But a multi-faceted approach has a better
chance of reducing the ever-growing amount of spam than a
solitary solution. And stemming this rising tide is essential
if the internet is to continue to be an effective medium
of communication and commerce.
If spam continues to grow, people will rely on their email
less and less. Right now, consumers are becoming so frustrated
at the junk email bombardment that they delete legitimate
commercial email as if it were spam.
This is why so many interested parties, including the Direct
Marketing Association, have come around to the view that
the federal government can play a meaningful role in stopping
They know that effective federal anti-spam legislation
will make it is more likely that consumers will read legitimate
I think we can all agree that spammers must not be allowed
to bog down the vast potential of email and the Internet.
It is my hope that the impressive roster of panelists you
have assembled here today will stimulate ideas to stop spammers
in their tracks. I look forward to hearing their testimony
and working with all of you to bring and end to the current
junk email epidemic.