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Marketers falling short on Can-Spam, study says

According to a Jupiter Research study, many companies fail to respond promptly to opt-out requests from recipients of marketing e-mail, as required by the new law.

Marketers are not complying fully with a new law designed to stop spam, a Jupiter Research survey has found.

Although a majority of the companies tracked provide ways for recipients to opt out of e-mail mailing lists, as required by the federal Can-Spam Act, nearly a fourth of them continued to send e-mail messages to recipients who had submitted requests to unsubscribe, according to the report, which was released this week.

The law requires marketers to reconcile their mailing lists once a week, based on feedback from opt-out requests, but a quarter of marketers indicated that they delete e-mail addresses on a monthly basis, quarterly or never. Many companies even stated in e-mail footers that they could not comply with the law's 10-day standard.

Jupiter Research tracked 55 leading e-mail marketers in sectors such as retail, travel, media and financial services. The Can-Spam Act, short for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing, establishes nationwide standards for sending unsolicited commercial e-mail. It was enacted in December.

Junk e-mail is considered a problem, because it clogs Internet arteries and wastes workers' time. E-mail service providers like Yahoo and America Online have filed lawsuits against spammers. But opponents of the Can-Spam Act say it actually legalizes spam by laying down rules for sending unsolicited mail.

The Jupiter Research study found that while 21 percent of the marketers allow consumers to simply reply to an e-mail to opt out, about one-third said within their e-mails that "Replies to this e-mail will not be processed."

The Can-Spam Act requires that messages include a valid physical address of the sender, but only 64 percent actually include a street address, according to the report. While the law does not specify that a street address should be included, recent comments from the Federal Trade Commission indicate that an alternative such as a post office box does not meet the law's requirement, Jupiter said.