Senate Democrats

Schumer: New Poll Shows Growing Concern About Spam Infested With Pornography

New national survey shows that 9 in 10 parents are concerned about their children receiving obscene spam and want the ability to block porn spam from children’s in-boxes

Survey also shows that 3 in 4 consumers would sign up for a federal no-spam registry; Poll shows continued support for Schumer’s legislation to create a “no-spam” list comparable to the federal “do-not-call” list

US Senator Charles E. Schumer released a new national survey today showing that parents are growing increasingly concerned about email spam infested with pornography and think a federal “no-spam” list akin to the FTC’s “Do Not Call” registry is the best way to keep obscene emails from reaching their children’s in-boxes. With the Senate expected to consider spam legislation in the next few weeks, Schumer said the study gives momentum to his efforts to ensure that his legislation to create such a registry is included in the bill.

“If parents can control what their kids watch on TV, they should be able to control what their children are exposed to on the Internet,” Schumer said. “We’ve got parental advisory notices on music and ratings for TV shows and movies to ensure that parents have the ability to keep their children from being exposed to inappropriate materials. So it’s baffling that there is no safeguard in place to ensure that parents can protect their kids from vulgar email. The emailing public has been at the mercy of spammers for way too long and this survey confirms that the public wants to be empowered to control what gets sent to their children’s in-boxes.”

The survey, conducted by UnSpam and InsightExpress, revealed that one‑quarter of the spam in personal email accounts is considered pornographic in nature ‑ a real issue for parents as almost 9 out of 10 (88%) say they are “seriously concerned” about their children receiving inappropriate email. To address the situation, 96% of parents are looking for the ability to block pornographic emails from reaching their children’s email accounts. In addition, 95% think children should be afforded special protections from spam and that anti-spam laws should protect children from receiving inappropriate emails. 93% believe that spammers should face enhanced penalties for sending inappropriate messages to children.

The survey also found that there is overwhelming public support for curbing the unsolicited commercial emails known as spam – 3 out of 4 consumers want a federal no-spam registry and would sign up if such a registry were available. Another 3 in 4 consumers believe spam makes checking their email a burden and complain that they are offended by some of the email they get. In addition, over 80% of the survey’s respondents report that they are less likely to read and respond to any commercial email messages because of spam.

Schumer said he expects the survey to bolster the arguments he has been making for a more comprehensive approach to dealing with email spam, including the creation of an no spam registry. He highlighted that the survey points out that there is wide dissatisfaction with current efforts to combat spam and that almost 85% of the survey’s respondents believe laws are needed in addition to the efforts of the Internet Service Providers. He noted that 3 in 4 of the survey’s respondents support the strictest possible legislation.

“Spam is having a measurable and negative impact on Americans and their children’s everyday lives,” said Lee Smith, President and Chief Operating Officer, InsightExpress. “These results reflect the voice of the everyday American and should be illuminating as Congress debates the merits of controlling unsolicited email.”

Schumer said the survey’s findings bode well for his legislation. “The support for a federal no-spam list is strong enough that I don’t think the public is going to be sympathetic to claims that it is hard to do,” Schumer said. “Americans want a solution to the spam plague that has teeth. They don’t want a half-way measure that fails to do something.”

Schumer’s legislation would establish costly fines for spamming activity, mandate jail time for repeat offenders, and create a “Do-Not-Spam” list of e-mail addresses similar to the FTC’s new “Do-Not-Call” registry that has succeeded in a number of states in virtually eliminating unwanted telemarketing calls. The bill would also make it a crime to harvest e-mail addresses, eliminating the most common technique spammers use to compile address lists. It would require commercial email to be labeled with “ADV” to permit filtering and institute other anti-fraud measures that would help email filters separate spam from personal or business-related email and clamp down on deceptive information that the FTC estimates is present in 66% of all junk e-mail.

“Spam is not just a little nuisance, it’s an epidemic, and getting rid of it for good is not as simple as just hitting the delete button once or twice,” Schumer said. “If nothing is done to deal with this problem, the miracle of the Internet is going to be undone. My bill checks spam at the source and would send those who persist in sending it to jail. If that’s not a strong enough deterrent, I don’t know what is.”

The Senate is expected to consider e-mail spam legislation before it recesses for the year. Schumer is expected to try and include his proposals in the final version of whatever bill comes out of Congress. His legislation has been endorsed by the Christian Coalition, the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE), and Unspam and is being co-sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham.