Politics of Spam Makes Strange Bedfellows: The DMA, “Slam Spam”, and the U.S. Justice Department

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On a sidenote to the much ballyhooed crackdown by the Justice Department on dozens of spammers, at least part of the funding for the crackdown came through the Direct Marketing Association’s “Operation Slam Spam”.

The law under which these stings were made, CAN-SPAM, has been depicted as a win for online marketers – the DMA’s primary constituency – rather than a blow to spammers. The DMA set up and funded “Operation Slam Spam” because, as former DMA president Bob Weitzen put it, “We felt that the key to the new law was enforcement.”


Despite the DMA’s generousity, many question the motives behind the DMA’s funding of Operation Slam Spam, pointing to the DMA’s own defense of its members’ practice of sending email to peope who did have not explicitly requested it.

Said anti-spammer Huey Callison, “..if it’s unsolicited and bulk, it’s spam, regardless of whether it’s Hot Teen Girls Want To Make $20,000 Nigerian Penis Larger A Week In Your Free Time, or the weekly specials from Home Depot. “Spam is, of course, something other than what we’re doing” is only a good definition when used as a red flag. I’ve only met [former DMA president Bob Weitzen] once, but I think it’s pretty telling that the only person who agreed with [his position on what is spam] at the FTC forum was [noted spammer] Tom Cowles. If he’s pickin’ teams, “…he chose… …poorly”. Has the DMA ever come out and said “we’ve rethought that position”? If they haven’t, well, the way I see it, their money supporting the feds’ investigations is as green as anybody’s, but their credibility is still parked out back in the weeds.”

It may be “slam spam” but it’s hardly a slam dunk for the DMA’s murky reputation when it comes to its spam policies for its own members.

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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