Should CAN SPAM Be Repealed?

from the wait-a-second... dept

It’s not a secret that CAN SPAM has been something of a failure, just as many people predicted when it first passed. However, there’s something odd in the arguments from those who say it should be repealed. They go back to the same story suggesting that CAN SPAM is to blame for an increase in spam. While I was one of those who believed this would happen when the law first passed, I’m not so sure any more. The problem is that there are two arguments people are making to support the fact that CAN SPAM is a failure, and those two arguments seem to contradict each other somewhat. Argument one: very, very few spam emails comply with CAN SPAM, using a legitimate return address and offering a real opt out Argument two: CAN SPAM allows for an increase in the amount of spam by setting up the rules by which spammers can make their spam legal. While that second argument was the one that concerned me, the fact that argument one is being made seems to negate argument number two. Whether or not CAN SPAM allows for “legitimate spam,” it appears that very, very few are using it for that purpose. So the argument that CAN SPAM, by itself, is responsible for the increase in spam doesn’t make much sense. If it did, then the compliance rate for spam messages should be much, much higher. That the law is ineffective makes much more sense. From the beginning, we’ve been asking where’s the backup plan if CAN SPAM fails… and we’re still asking. Why do politicians pass a law to fix a problem and then immediately assume the problem is fixed, rather than putting in place some sort of system to see if the law does what it’s supposed to do and a strategy to follow up if it doesn’t?

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Comments on “Should CAN SPAM Be Repealed?”

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Jim Harper (user link) says:

Yes, Repeal It

The argument that CAN-SPAM increases spam doesn’t jibe with my reality either. I think the best reason to can CAN-SPAM is because, without reducing spam, it adds legal complexity and uncertainty to the lives of e-mailers. In a marginal way, it makes it harder for small businesses, for example, to communicate with new customers. I’m not talking about small businesses that send to [the dictionary], but the ones that carefully select potential clients. They still have to put a “physical postal address” at the bottom of the e-mail. If it’s a home-based business that uses a P.O. Box, is that a physical postal address? Maybe we need to check with a lawyer, or spend a few hours reading the Federal Trade Commission regulations in the Federal Register. Sand in the gears of the economy.

slim999 says:

Repeal it? What a dumb question!

It’s funny to me that the question on the table is: Should we repeal, or not repeal, this legislation.
It’s almost as if by doing one or the other, some benefit would be derived. What would be the point of having the debate if no benefit would be derived by one or the other option coming into existence?
Let me be a little more clear by making an analogy: Would there be MORE or LESS murders if there was a legally proscribed method of COMMITTING a murder? I’d suspect there’d be some ILLEGAL murders and some LEGAL murders, but that the overall number might not change that much.
But again, this misses the point. There are no legally proscribed methods to commit murder. Murder is illegal, no matter how it’s done. And yet, murders still occur … 14,000 or so a year in the United States.
People seem amazed that there is still spam since, after all, its been banned (or at a minimum a legal variety has been created). They blame the people who wrote the law because spam still exists, nay, it has GROWN. So therefore, the law must be bad.
It’s as if people believe that, because we have MORE murders now than before when murder was outlawed, that somehow, the law AGAINST murder must be flawed.
Laws against murder are not intended to PREVENT murder. That they MIGHT PREVENT ONE is a side benefit that is irrelevant to their purpose. The purpose of laws against murders is to set out the legal penalties one will face should one commit a murder.
This is almost exactly what CAN-SPAM does. It does not, and never attempted to, “outlaw” spam. What it attempted to do was to set out the penalties for unlawful spamming.
I saw on CBS the other day how the cops were rounding up all these spammers and putting them in jail. Without this law, this would not have been possible.
Wait! No, I didn’t see that. BECAUSE IT HASN’T HAPPENED. Legislatures do not arrest people who break the law … the POLICE do. And Barney Fife down at your local constabulary is too busy getting shot at by dope dealers to care whether or not you think getting a Viagra ad in your inbox is the crime of the century.
The COPS are never going to enforce the LEGISLATOR’s wishes by arresting people for sending out illegal spam; much in the same way that the police don’t arrest loiterers or jaywalkers.
Spam is not going to be stopped by laws or cops. Or anyone else for that matter as long as it is FREE to SEND email.
Since it will always BE FREE to send an email (there will always be zombies to do it), spam will just crush email as an effective means of communication, especially for corporations (mine is spending a LOT of money trying to make email work and will eventually decide that it’s not worth it). (Sending files from one place to another is all email was ever truly good at doing.)
This has happened before. How many fax messages have you sent recently over tariffed POTS lines?
EMAIL IS 1999. Please, let it die a dignified death. I hope spammers succeed in killing it. It was never a very good method of communicating anyway (delivering, yes, but communicating … uh not so much).
What will supplant it? Most likely V-VOIP (that’s video-voice-over-IP). The email killer will likely be VSkype.
VSkype on my VSwatch, Dick Tracy … yea, thats the ticket.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

?Why do politicians pass a law to fix a problem and then immediately assume the problem is fixed, rather than putting in place some sort of system to see if the law does what it’s supposed to do and a strategy to follow up if it doesn’t??

This isn?t a serious question is it?

Politicians are not worried about making the world better, they are worried about re-election. After they pass a law that is supposed to ?fix? a problem, they can go back to their constituency and campaign on it. The question about what the law actually does is peripheral? the politicians got what they wanted to out of it? follow up would simply be wasted energy for them.

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