Spammer Ordered To Pay ISP $11.2 billion

from the slap-on-the-wrist dept

A judge has ordered a spammer (from Florida, natch) to pay $11.2 billion (yes, with a b) to an Iowa ISP after sending more than 280 million spam messages to its servers. The ISP in question has won billion-dollar judgements against other spammers before, but its owner isn’t holding out hope that he’ll ever see any of the money, although the spammer’s been banned from the Internet for three years. This again raises the question of how spammers should be punished — the monetary award will never be paid, and the Internet ban is fairly pointless. All this while the level of spam isn’t decreasing, although better technology may mean people see less of it. Anti-spam laws have done little to stem the tide, and the US legal system doesn’t seem to be able to adequately deal with spammers and provide meaningful punishment — both the punish individual spammers, but also to act as a deterrent to others.

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Comments on “Spammer Ordered To Pay ISP $11.2 billion”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Garnish his wages?

I would assume that any money the defendant has in the bank could be forfeited to offset the amount owed, as well as a garnish against all future earnings, leaving the spammer with just enough money to eke out an existence for the rest of his life.

I wouldn’t even have a problem with the courts taking away the spammers house, car, big screen TV, etc. and selling them to cover the amount owed.

If the spammer had been driving without insurance and killed someone (and I’m *not* saying spamming is equivalent!), then the spammer could expect to be treated like that.

If the spammer had been dealing drugs, then they could expect the government to sieze everything and sell it.

Why can’t the government do the same to spammers?

Bob says:

All of the above

Ridiculous, as one person’s idea of spam is different from anothers.

Today companies and corporations are allowed to spam us to death at will, yet an individual is not. Why? Why should a company be able to get away with it, when an individual is forbidden? Because they bribed the lawmakers into making it so?

While I agree a more constructive sentence is required to deter spamming, the first step is to adopt universal guidelines that apply to EVERYONE, with no convenient ‘exemptions’ for charities, government, or international conglomerates that bribe their way into being allowed to spam. THEN, and only then should we pass laws dealing with punishment for violations, and they should be universal and apply to all.

Frank Urro (user link) says:

"Constructive", is the key word indeed.

The solution must be very constructive. It must eliminate spam while leaving email fully accessible for the recipients that wish to attract unsolicited clear, concise, and well targeted messaging (commercial or not.) Spam is marketing gone bad. It’s a low cost resource being abused by a minority, because they can! It is destroying the medium for everyone.

Instead of squandering immense resources crafting, and defending, rules and punishments which can never address everyone’s need, the opportunity for punishment should be built directly into the system. Now, (as already stated) because one person’s spam is another person’s ham, the recipient should easily be able to trigger the punishment. What has then been put into place a system of economic punishment (as the courts would impose) with the difference being it is instantaneous and automatically scalable to the abuse action. Additionally, as the courts would also attempt, the fines would go to the parties abused. It would clean, fast and everyone would win.

The entire problem stems from the fact that the cost of communications is forever dropping, and this should be a good thing. However, it should not be “my” responsibility to pay to protect “my” personal space. Spammers spew irrelevant trash and it costs “me” to clean up the mess. And don’t think for a minute that your ISP bill, a court case, and a court order isn’t burdening you with the cost of this mess. Put them jail – so now it’s room and board for a spammer?

The issue is simple. Give the consumer – every consumer – the ability to place a value on their digital space. Allow any message free right of passage provided the consumer is presented with a monetary guarantee (real cash) “before” the message is delivered. This way you’ll only get messages of interest (or from those not smart enough to control their spending habits) and, best of all, the communication line stays free for all that respect you. But here’s the secret – it is the consumer that MUST be in control of their value, not their ISP or any other third party. The guarantee must be meant for the consumer and the consumer only, hence forming a bond between the sender and the recipient.

It’s common knowledge that people feel like commercial targets everywhere they turn and it all stems from the fact they have immense value to the commercial world – so why not turn over the control of that value to “the consumer.” Advertisers don’t quite get it yet, but they will be far better off if the consumer had this power. Right now, consumers are ducking and hiding every chance they get and, again, this costs the consumer real out of pocket money.

Think of the financial burden this would lift from the ISP, the IT network manager and anyone given the responsibility for monitoring a spam folder. Think of what these individuals would do with all their newfound free time.

Without some form of personal value control this problem is only going to get worse. Just wait until the first time you pick up your VoIP phone and you have 30, 50, or 100 voice mails awaiting you.

This is an economic issue – it should not be free to contact me if your goal is to frustrate me with irrelevant data. However, at the same time, I want to ensure free passage for the responsible sender as I do enjoy well-targeted unsolicited messages (yes, even commercial ones).

So that we have full disclosure; I’m Frank Urro, co-founder of Vanquish Labs, the inventors of Personal Value Control. Our architecture has been in development for 4+ years with a complete focus on rebalancing the economic value chain of personal communications. The result will be – delivering to ISPs, network managers and email users, the power and respect they rightly deserve.

I would more than happy to field questions or engage in a constructive conversation as we are always looking for valuable feedback from the technical community.

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