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Porn spammers ignore new rule

Spammers flooding the Internet with pornographic solicitations apparently are not abiding by a new federal rule that took effect last week.

Spammers flooding the Internet with pornographic solicitations apparently are not abiding by a new federal rule that took effect last week.

Not only did illegal sexually-explicit spam fail to slow down after the regulations took effect May 19, but pornographic e-mail measured by one antispam company jumped from around 2 million messages in a 40-hour period last week to around 2.5 million during the same period this week.

The Can-Spam Act that President Bush signed in December required the Federal Trade Commission to come up with a label for unsolicited pornographic e-mail. The FTC responded by declaring that anyone sending sexually oriented material must include the warning "SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT:" in the Subject line. Violators face fines.

Brightmail, an antispam company in San Francisco, said that it measured 2 billion junk e-mail messages in the 40-hour period last week after the FTC rule took effect. Of the 2 million that were pornographic, 40 percent had some sort of label that resembled what the FTC mandated.

But a Brightmail representative said many of those sex-labeled messages still appeared to be illegal in some way. "This is usually an attempt by spammers to make their messages look as though they are in compliance, when in most cases they are not in compliance with the law," spokeswoman Linda Munyan said. Brightmail, which is set to be purchased by Symantec, performed the analysis in response to a request from CNET News.com.

When politicians in Congress touted the Can-Spam Act last year, they predicted it would help clean out clogged Internet in-boxes. "Americans are tired of just watching and fretting over in-boxes clogged with offensive e-mail, and this legislation is an important step toward giving consumers more control," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

The Senate is in its Memorial Day recess this week, and Wyden could not immediately be reached for comment.

During an appearance before the Senate last week, however, an FBI official said that agents were readying cases against 50 of the most noxious spammers for prosecution later this year.

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