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DMA STATEMENT RE: OPERATION SLAM SPAMNEW YORK, August 22, 2003 - The Direct Marketing Association (The DMA) today acknowledged that it proposed to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) an innovative and groundbreaking industry/law enforcement cooperative effort to identify and prosecute spammers.
Operation Slam Spam, as the effort is now called, represents the first concrete step by any group to publicly put all spammers on notice that federal and international law enforcement bodies now will have formal assistance and major resources devoted from industry to identify, prosecute, and lock up the bad actors who threaten to wholly undermine e-mail as a viable communications medium.
"Our message to spammers is: If you're lying to consumers, not honoring consumers' requests, trying to swindle consumers, and ruin the Internet economy - the end is near," said H. Robert Wientzen, president & CEO, The DMA. "Spammers are taking the Internet on a joy ride, and we are going to work hard to put a stop to it."
A broad consensus has emerged among industry leaders, government officials, law enforcement agencies, and consumer groups that the vast majority of spam, pitching consumers with everything from fraudulent Nigerian money-laundering schemes to organ enlargement pills, comes from no more than 200 - 300 offenders globally.
The FBI and The DMA are still in the early stages of implementing Operation Slam Spam, and a more formal and detailed announcement about the group is not expected for another few weeks. With Operation Slam Spam, industry would provide technical expertise and resources to federal law enforcement officials.
"The DMA initiated discussions with the FBI as one part of a long-standing, multi-pronged approach to rid the Internet of spammers," said Wientzen. "It has been our expressed desire for a long time to arm law enforcement officials with additional private-sector resources, support federal anti-spam legislation, and work with industry on technological solutions that help curb the growth of spam. Today's announcement is simply the next logical step in our plan."
"Delivery rates for legitimate e-mail communications are dropping significantly," said Wientzen. "Our members can no longer depend on this promising technology to communicate with their business partners, let alone customers and prospects. The larger problem is that individual consumers also can't depend on e-mail to receive communications that they have specifically requested - not just legitimate advertisements, but bill-payment receipts, travel reservation confirmations, and even holiday party invitations from wrongfully blacklisted companies, relatives and friends."
Legitimate e-mail marketing has become an important and valuable marketing tool that consumers respond to in great numbers. A recent survey conducted by The DMA showed that 45.8 million adult Americans purchased products and services such as clothing, books, travel and hotels at least once in the preceding 12 months in response to a legitimate e-mail advertisement, accounting for at least $7.1 billion in sales. Eleven million Americans, representing 9 percent of e-mail users, have made at least one purchase of similar goods and services in response to unsolicited e-mail advertisements. Significantly, 69 percent of e-mail purchasers report savings by shopping via the medium, on average saving $48 per purchase.