The Government Needs To Save Us From Spam

from the forget-technology dept

Bill Gurley’s latest column is a bit odd for him. For someone who used to act as if technology could solve all of our problems – he seems to have given up on technology when it comes to spam. He’s decided that there is no technological solution to spam – and instead we need anti-spam laws. The government will save us! This seems like an odd refrain from a technology hyper… Anyway, while many people have been saying the exact same thing for years, Gurley doesn’t suggest any solutions to the problems the “legislative solution” brings up. In fact, he barely seems to mention that there are problems with this solution. There’s the “free speech” or “how exactly is spam defined” problem. There’s the issue of enforcement, which is a much bigger one (which he mentions – but with no solution). It sounds nice to say “we must enforce spam regulation”, but it’s not that easy in practice. First of all, with all the spam out there, it would take a ridiculous amount of work to track down all the spammers (if possible) and then file charges against them. There are plenty of states that have spam laws, and yet only a tiny handful of cases where people have been able to sue based on those laws. The legal solution does little to stop spam. I’d still put my money on a technological solution that makes the returns from spam not worth it. If a legislative solution can help out – I’m all for it. But, I’m not convinced that it would be effective.

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Comments on “The Government Needs To Save Us From Spam”

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cmw says:


The only way to get these spammers is to vigorously prosecute them! I sure would give up some of my tax dollars to see them in jail. Stick them all in the same prison with a Web cam so we can all enjoy their fate.
ISPs complaints are only viable for terminating a spammer on a temporary basis and a skilled spammer is not even traceable via ISP.
These spammers all have a common denominator. They want your money! That means we need law enforcement to track them down via the spammers listed phone and or PO Box or whatever method they have devised to take your money. Not impossible. Just look for the spammers outstretched hand! You better believe I am willing to pay for such a service.

Dale Gardner says:

Legislation Could Help

Gurley’s right – I’m a relative unknown in the world, but I still manage to attract over 3,200 spam messages a year. The technical difficulty associated with tracking down a spammer exists – but it’s not insurmountable. At the moment, it’s simply not worth the effort – if the most that’s going to happen is that some idiot’s going to be bounced from an ISP (only to show up on another) there is little economic incentive for me to fight back.

On the other hand, if I can nail somebody and get some fines assessed – or collect damages – the equation starts to change. Then it’s worth my time to start tracking these clowns down.

I’m not sure how best to implement such legislation – but you might start with making it illegal to forge headers – there is very little reason to forge a header, other than to support spam…and it is a common practice for spammers. It’s a start…

Washington State Resident says:

Re: Legislation Could Help

I have been successful in tracking down quite a few spammers. I have about ten cases set to go to court. If I as a little guy can do it with limited resources I don?t understand why the government can’t track them down. I have so far collected about $7500.00 in civil judgments and am working on recovering thousands more. I got spammed 220 times from one idiot and am filing suit for $500.00 in damages per under Washington RCW 19.190. The FTC claims to be cracking down but I have found them to be very unresponsive.

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