Government Has No Business Regulating Spam

from the so-now-what? dept

An interesting opinion piece from Mitch Wagner saying that the government has no business regulating spam, and the further we go into the process, the worse it looks. Basically, the argument is that all of the current laws look ineffective – and are actually designed to legitimize certain kinds of spam. This, clearly, would do little to stop spam, and would actually encourage it to become more widespread. He suggests that new technologies and existing fraud laws should be good enough to prevent spam. It’s an interesting viewpoint, and one that I’m beginning to agree with myself. So, my question is: is it impossible for the government to enact good anti-spam laws, or is it just the current set of bills that are no good?

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Comments on “Government Has No Business Regulating Spam”

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Zonker (user link) says:

Spam bills

Is it possible to enact a “good” anti-spam bill? Yes. Is it possible to enact a good one given the excessive influence that marketeers and special interests have in Congress? Probably not.
Basically, a good anti-spam bill need only say that it is illegal to send bulk marketing e-mail (ie, a batch of 100 e-mails or more, to ensure that users wouldn’t be liable for spamming just by e-mailing a resume to a potential employer or such) to users who have not opted-in to a newsletter/marketing list/whatever and give users the ability to sue spammers directly rather than having to hope that their state AG or federal prosecutors are willing to take up the case. Extra-stiff penalties for spammers who forge headers and/or use deceptive subject lines and really stiff penalties for those who send porn spam.
Finally, a good bill would contain no exceptions to any of the above rules — no exemptions for non-profits, no exemptions for political campaigns and so on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Or are anti-government techies pro-spam?

It could be that the IT industry has a vested interest in spam, and is afraid of the government punishing them. The IT industry pushes e-mail, and because e-mail contains spam, they want to push solutions for it.

If you ask any special interest group in Washington, they will tell you that politicians are “ignorant” and need to be “educated”, that their enemies are “well-heeled donors”. Bashing the government is a sign of amateurish lobbyists who are trying to scam customers for fake donations.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Or are anti-government techies pro-spam?

It could be that the IT industry has a vested interest in spam, and is afraid of the government punishing them.

Are you defining the IT indsutry as the ‘direct marketing’ people or the spammers themselfes? Or perhaps the people who sell anti-spam?

Because the rest of the IT people, the ones who keep the Internet up, the ones who manage servers, have to devote thier time, enery and bandwidth to SPAM. And they would like to see it gone.

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Simple Solution - Don't Outlaw SPAM.

Now before you get mad, hear me out.

You don’t outlaw SPAM, you outlaw the sale of any item or service via SPAM.

Everyone knows that SPAMmers go to great lengths to protect their own identity by using invalid return e-mail addresses, open mail relays, etc., and thus they are often times very difficult to find.

The vendors who sell stuff through SPAM however have to make themselves visible either through a website or telephone number that *can* be traced (with the exception of 1 or 2 SPAMs I seem to get every day that offer a product and provide absolutely no way to get in touch with them…).

If we make it a federal felony crime with mandatory jail time and steep fines ($5 per person SPAMmed is plenty steep) to sell any product or service via SPAM, and then go out and arrest the people that do so, people will stop selling via SPAM and the SPAM senders will eventually go out of business.

itchyfish says:

Re: Simple Solution - Don't Outlaw SPAM.

Don’t be silly. That would in no way prevent spam. I would just send you spam with the title “Can you hear me now?” and include a link to Verizon’s website. Did I try to sell you anything? No. Did I offer you a service? No. Any solution of this type simply breaks down into semantics. I think we all need to realize spam is here to stay. It will never be eliminated. There are far too many companies and politicians making money from the subject.

I think a more appropriate solution is make the spammers pay. A common spammer argument is “people get junk (snail) mail all the time and they don’t complain about that!” Well, those juunk mailers PAY for sending it, thus keeping the USPS alive and kicking. So, if something could be designed to make spammers pay to send me spam, thus keeping some organization up and running and employing 100,000 or so people, I’d be fine with spam.

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