FTC CONTINUES ASSAULT ON SPAMMERS

Investigators Target Marketers' Phony 'Remove Me' Options

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The Federal Trade Commission today said it regards phony "remove me" or "unsubscribe" options in otherwise legal e-mails as a violation of consumer protection laws, making mailers subject to prosecution.

This marks the first time the FTC has made such a distinction. The announcement was made during the unveiling of a multistate initiative against spam, or junk e-mail messages, that include the phony links or ones that don't work.

Operation 'Netforce'
The initiative, called "Netforce," also involves Canada. Also on hand at the unveiling was Washington State Attorney General Christine Gregoire.

The FTC said it tested e-mails sent by spammers who provided "remove me" options to see whether addresses could in fact be taken off lists and also if contacting the addressee prompted any increase in e-mail.

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75 marketers put on notice
While the FTC said it saw no increase in e-mail from those who did allow replies, it said it has sent letters to 75 e-mailers who listed opt-out links that didn't work, warning them of potential prosecution.

Other e-mailers the FTC said it would take action against included one claiming a cure for cancer and another involved in a multilevel marketing scheme.

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