Today, we filed comments (PDF) with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to warn against overbroad interpretation of the CAN-SPAM Act -- new federal legislation aimed at stemming the current tidal wave of spam. We are pessimistic that the law will be effective in that respect, and argue in our comments that it could also hurt legitimate email -- especially noncommercial email mailing lists.
Specifically, we urged the FTC to:
1) limit the bill's reach to truly "commercial" speech under the settled First Amendment principles;
2) protect consumers from liability when they decide to "forward to a friend" an ad for a product they like; and
3) ensure that people will still be able to use nicknames when sending messages, as the law could make it illegal to send a commercial message with a nickname as the return address. We suggested that the law apply only to return addresses that mislead the recipient.
[Note: the linked document contains only our additional comments. We don't have a copy of the document containing the full comments, although we expect the FTC to publish it at some point.]