Back when the CAN SPAM law was first passed, we noted that it effectively legalized spam rather than the other way around, by setting up the rules by which spam was perfectly legal. While the law itself has been effectively useless in actually stopping spam, a new court ruling has shown how it actually could help spammers. The case is one we wrote about last year, where an anti-spam activist was sued by a spamming travel operation after he opted out of their spam and they kept spamming him. He wrote about it and threatened to sue them under Oklahoma's anti-spam law (where he resides). The company responded by suing him, claiming defamation and trademark infringement. While the court did reject the trademark infringement claim right away, and is still getting ready to look at the defamation issue, it has sided with the travel company saying that their emails are not actionable as spam under CAN SPAM -- even though they had misleading header information (such as return addresses). Basically, the ruling says that Oklahoma's own anti-spam law is bypassed by the much less strict CAN SPAM, and the false info in the header (including a non-working return address) doesn't violate CAN SPAM at all. It's a bad ruling for anti-spam folks everywhere, making it much easier for spammers to claim their spam is legit -- and the anti-spammer in this case has said he's basically going to give up now. It's easy to pick on the judge in this case, but the much bigger problem is clearly CAN SPAM itself -- and yet, there's no talk of changing it, because the politicians who passed it got their press release about how they had stopped spam and have moved on.
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