A spate of do-not-mail bills has been introduced in state legislatures in the past few months. While these are attempts to capitalize on the extremely popular Do-Not-Call Registry, nationally maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the sponsors of these new bills also claim the prevention of identity theft and environmental concerns as motivations. At the time of this writing, two bills already had been pulled or withdrawn by their sponsors (Colorado HB 1303 and Montana HB 718) in the wake of concerted opposition from groups such as the U.S. Postal Service, Letter Carriers’ associations and the Direct Marketing Association.
In withdrawing their bills, the sponsors pointed out the loss of jobs in the public (mail carriers and other postal workers) and private (retailers, printers, manufacturers) sectors, the devastating effects on the postal system’s operations, and an increase in postal rates for consumers that would result from such legislation.
Another weapon in the arsenal against such legislation exists in the form of the FTC’s June 2004 report to Congress (www.ftc.gov/reports/dnereg istry/report.pdf) on the viability of a national do-not-e-mail registry. In its report, the FTC, after an impressively comprehensive investigation, concluded that a registry containing only the e-mail addresses of consumers who do not want to receive commercial e-mails would become the target of spammers and would-be hackers, and it could not be adequately protected.
A do-not-mail registry would, by definition, contain more information than a consumer’s e-mail address. To ensure the correct consumer would be blocked from a mailing, a marketer would need a way to confirm that the “John Jay Smith, 1 Broadway, New York, N.Y.” listed on the registry was the “J. Smith, 1 Bwy, #34N, New York, N.Y.” on the marketer’s list and not “Jason Smith, 1 Broadway, New York, N.Y.” Obviously, other data, in addition to name and address, would be needed for the registries to work properly.