Issues for a “Do Not Email” List



About This Report

From the Introduction:

The ubiquity of the problem of spam is evident to anyone who uses a computer. Unsolicited electronic email carries offers for items such as drugs, software, or sexual aids, and nasty attachments such as Trojan horses, computer viruses, and computer worms. Numerous approaches to handling spam have failed. There is little reason that spam will decrease.

The “do not call” telephone list has been remarkably successful in reducing the number of calls that people receive from telemarketers. The FTC is considering having a “do not email” (DNE) list, similar to the “do not call” list. A Request for Information was issued.

This report begins with a discussion of what spam is. It then summarizes the goals of a DNE list. It then discusses three models of administering the DNE list, and several issues central to such a list. We conclude with a discussion of the key points underlying difficulties in selecting appropriate technical mechanisms.


Congress asked the FTC to prepare a report on a “Do Not Email” list. As part of their information gathering, they asked a number of experts for opinions. Here is mine.