For a while now, I've been talking about how every "anti-spam" conference or discussion seems to get bogged down (right at the very beginning) on the question of "how do we define spam?" In my mind, this has always been the wrong question - and it seemed like something of a red herring thrown out by the Direct Marketing Association to delay any anti-spam rules that might slow down their (only slightly more legit) spamming operations. Now, David Berlind has written an interesting article taking a serious look at the question of a spam definition and agrees with the FTC's Orson Swindle who claims that spam is "anything I don't like." In other words, it's the end user (and not the ISPs, marketers, or government) who should be deciding what is and what is not spam. From there, he suggests that any spam solution needs to let the end-user designate what they consider spam to be. The issue isn't what's the single proper definition of spam - but how do we build a system that lets anyone stop getting the email they don't want.
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