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Fighting Spam

Stan James
(instanceof Sidekick)
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Joined: Jan 29, 2003
Posts: 8791
Why are we going after the mailers of spam? Doesn't most spam encourage you to spend money with some company? Aren't those companies paying someone to send spam? Shouldn't we penalize them? Surely they're easier to find than the guy with the mail program.

A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of the idea. John Ciardi
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15302

Penalize them for what? Spamming is not illegal, yet. It's not that much different, in terms of the company, than purchasing banners to be displayed on a web page. It's just more annoying.

If laws are placed so that Spamming is illegal/limited then companies have their products sent out as spam won't have anyone to send out the spam. Problem solved.

It's kind of like the "war on drugs". You can bust all the junkie buyers you want, but until you take care of the distributers, and eventually the source, there will always be a problem.

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Jim Yingst

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
I believe Stan is advocating taking out the source, not the junkies. (Especially since the last part of the analogy is least apt - we e-mail users never opted in to spam, except in the sense that we opt in to having e-mail at all.

The main problem I see is that if they were to start penalizing the companies which apparently benefit from spam, this could be turned into a weapon used against other companies. Don't like McDonald's? Forge a spam which appears to support them. I suspect it would be difficult to reliably determine who really was beind a particular spam.

"I'm not back." - Bill Harding, Twister
P. Sagdeo
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Joined: Nov 13, 2003
Posts: 67
Although spam is uaually much less productive than whatever you could be doing instead of filtering through it to find your "real" messages, it can still be very productive for flegdeling companies. That is why I think we should have a "Do Not Spam" list, so that perhaps people who would completely disregard it anyway wouldn't get it. I know there must be a problem with this, or else it would have passed ages ago, what is it?

P.S. - This is supposed to be analogous to the "Do Not Call" list, that is in the US.

P.P.S - I just realized that this would be next to impossible to enforce.
[ July 15, 2004: Message edited by: P. Sagdeo ]
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
The idea of a "do not spam" list has been discussed and discarded many times.
The reason is simply that such a list is an ideal place for spammers to get active email addresses.
As they're criminals anyway this will only cause more spam because they'll use the list not to remove addresses from their lists of victims but to get a list of known-good addresses for free.

Yes, spammers are criminals.
There's just no effective way to go after them.

I get bombarded with emails which promote services which in my country are illegal.
- unregistered pharmacies: illegal
- unlicensed gambling: illegal
- 419 scams: illegal
- fake university diplomas: illegal
- uncovered creditcards: illegal
- pyramid schemes: illegal
- spam services (yes, some spammers advertise those): illegal
- childporn (yes, I've had spam for that): illegal

Spamming itself is also illegal in a lot of places, yet spammers don't care.
Even in the US where spam is now legal under federal law thanks to the CanSpam act (aptly named, now anyone can legally spam) many spammers are engaged in illegal activities even if the services they advertise may be legal.
The CanSpam act dictates that all spam must have a valid return address, no faked headers and a real way to tell the sender you don't want his crap anymore (and we all know what using a spammer's 'unsubscribe' option does...).
95% or more of spam contains fake headers, fake return addresses (or worse, stolen addresses which is mailfraud) and/or invalid or missing options to op out.

The US do-not-call register has the big advantage that violators can be prosecuted, spammers cannot.

I agree. Here's the link:
subject: Fighting Spam
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