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Grimes Publishes Article in International Journal

Grimes Galen
9/29/2007 —

Galen Grimes, Associate Professor of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State Greater Allegheny, was recently published in the Communications of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), the journal of the ACM, an international scientific and educational organization dedicated to advancing the art, science, engineering and application of information technology.

Grimes article, "Compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003," was the summation of his research study to test overall compliance with a Federal law in existence since 2003.  The law, Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, was a governmental attempt to eliminate or reduce unsolicited commercial emails (UCE).  Grimes' article was one of several featured in the February, 2007 edition of the journal which was devoted to spam and the battle for the inbox by online advertisers.

Grimes designed his research study with the use of five different email accounts in 2004, the author's university and personal accounts , plus three additional accounts set up through Yahoo Mail.   Another, but smaller study of email messages was done in 2006 using only the author's university and personal email accounts.  

Grimes' study focused on those areas of the CAN-SPAM act which would indicate compliance with the law from the perspective of a typical email user.   Those areas examined were:
• Subject line content -- could the email message be determined by examining the subject line?
• Address of sender…did the email contain the physical address of the advertiser? (A POB not permitted)
• Opt-out - did the email message contain a functional way for the email receiver to remove himself from the database of the spam sender?
• Sexually explicit message -- was the email message identified as containing a sexually explicit message?

Grimes research concluded that compliance with the CAN-SPAM act six months after its passage was very low with only 14.3% of spam messages meeting the very limited standards laid out in the study.  Two years later, the rate of compliance had dropped even further to 5.7%.  

The article states that although U.S. authorities have attempted litigation in more than 50 instances, the threat of litigation has not been a strong deterrent, with the amount of spam continuing to increase yearly.  Grimes concludes that while the CAN-SPAM act receives criticism, it may be only the first step to controlling spam with additional amendments to the law needed to strengthen the legislation.

Grimes has been teaching at Penn State Greater Allegheny since 1999.  He became a tenured member of the University's faculty in 2007.   His research focuses on spam and network security.

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