CAN SPAM Still Not Canning Much Spam

from the in-case-you-were-wondering dept

When the CAN SPAM bill was first signed into law in the US, it seemed pretty clear that it had little to do with actually stopping spam, and plenty to do with letting some politicians pat themselves on the back for stopping spam. Plenty of people wondered, if the real purpose was to try to stop spam, what was the backup plan should CAN SPAM fail? In the business world, you tend to have things like backup plans — but that doesn’t actually happen in politics, where you simply name a bill after what you hope will happen, and then assume that once it’s passed, it’s as good as happening. While there has been some progress in the fight against spam, it’s mostly come from improving filter technology. In the meantime, however, CAN SPAM’s continued uselessness is highlighted in this new report showing that the amount of spam that “complies” with CAN SPAM disclosure rules is at an all-time low of 0.27 percent. But, it’s not like politicians care because they can successfully claim that they “fought spam.”

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Comments on “CAN SPAM Still Not Canning Much Spam”

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Anonymous Coward says:

This statistic is meaningless – why would actual spam comply with CAN SPAM rules? CAN SPAM is supposed to give legitimate email marketers [please don’t flame me, it’s a possibility that these might exist] a framework to comply with a set of standards. In return they get treated differently by ISP’s and email providers, and get improved deliverability. Actual spammers, who have no chance of getting this sort of reputation boost, only stand to lose by complying with CAN SPAM.

A better stat would be the % of overall commercial email that is CAN SPAM compliant, and what percentage of that makes it to your inbox.

Anonymous Coward says:

I guess the world is 25% total f*cking morons.
No, the world is .025% morons.

No, no, no. One fourth of the population are retards. But you see, it’s a spectrum of retardedness. Of that fourth, one in a thousand is retarded enough to buy from a spam email.

But seriously, you can’t honestly expect a US law to make people, many of which are in other countries, do anything differently when they deliberately abuse technology and annoy people to convey ethically questionable ‘advertising’. They’re past the point where knowing that they’re breaking a law would affect their decision whether or not to spam people. If they want to stop spam, they need to start getting people thrown in jail or fined massively, and make it not worth it.

Nick says:

The real solution to the problem

The *real* solution to this problem is technical, not legal. To really get rid of SPAM as we know it today (which is a MAJOR problem, as an ISP operator I can tell you it costs a LOT of money to deal with all the spam), is to totally scrap the way that email as we know it works, and completely re-implement SMTP in a manner that requires security and accountability.

Some people have complained that doing so would prevent small operators from having mail servers (such as home linux users who want to tinker), but that would be a small price to pay for a ~80% reduction in the volume of email on the internet – this would save millions, if not billions, of dollars in bandwidth charges and software licensing fees.

Of course, the big boys of anti-spam wouldn’t want this to happen – then what would happen to their market?

I don’t seriously expect to see SMTP reimplemented any time soon for that exact reason. The same reason the oil companies don’t invest in alternative energy…. the people in power don’t *want* the problem to go away.

Solo says:

Spam and email is like virus and windows. It comes with the territory.

Laws could not stop the unsollicited faxes. Why should it be different with email?

The astonishing thing is that spam actually works. People make money off spam. Not just the spammers (those who send the emails by the trillions) but the various scams behind it.

Am I really going to get genuine medicine through your “online pharmacy no rx required”?
Should I really get you 3 cents/share OTC stock on the promise it will be worth billions in 2 days?
Can I really keep 12% of 35 million dollars if I give this gentleman member of some african country government?

There are good spam filters out there. Use them. Just like there are good virus protection programs. We just need to use them. We don’t need no laws for that!

Exiled From the mainstream says:

The age of...umm..

(there goes a witty title attempt, $#@!)

The main problem is that many people, at least here in Texas , are technophobes. And most just hope it’ll go away like its a fad, but how can something being used almost entirely around the globe now be a fad like I’ve heard them pass it off as? If you think I’m joking you’re wrong there are people down here at the borders of the deep south thinking its a fad still. Myspace (a pox upon the thing!) is a fad, the internet isn’t a fad.

And running along the point of technophobes most are in politics right now, meaning their views get bounced up most of the time. And in attempts to look good and fluffy puppie junk like that they make laws that do SQUAT against stuff like spam. It kinda reminds me of the whole drug testing in school crap. It doesn’t do a thing except drive what you’re trying to stop deeper underground.

The “CAN SPAM” law is having a success rate of… uh is there a number small enough for it? My email box says its not working. I honestly just expect laws with the net in regard to be impotent, they have no real teeth and waste tax dollars. Maybe once in a blue moon they’ll do something right but I don’t see that coming till most of the senate and house are replaced with the next generation of politicians. And [insert name of divine spirit of your choice here] help us if they’re just as bad.

JonInFl says:


Lawmakers, and the upper-levels of law enforcers, habitually confuse passing a law with ending the problem. As a gun-owner, I see this all the time: a killing with a gun invokes a demand for more gun control, though countless studies have proven that gun control laws increase crime. I have begun asking “Why not make killing [with anything] a crime?”, which confuses them. They think additional laws will have an additional effect.
In the same way, these laws against spam have no effect on the amount of spam, but the law-makers ignore this. It never enters their mind that anything that such an august body decrees is illegal would ever be done again. What is needed is more enforcement of existing laws, but that is too much trouble. Passing additional laws is much easier.

Dave Ziffer (user link) says:

Get rid of free email and you'll eliminate SPAM

This is so ridiculous it’s pathetic. SPAM exists because the whole socialist concept of “free” email flies in the face of common sense and market-based economics, and most people are stupid enough to buy into it.

There is a cheap and immediate solution to the spam problem, but amazingly I have never heard anyone but me talk about it: All top-tier Internet routers must start charging the equivalent of one-tenth of one cent per delivered e-mail. This fee would be charged to all downline subscribers (corporate I service providers that connect to the top tier), who in turn would pass it down to lower levels, all the way down to individual subscribers like you and me.

Such a fee would cost the typical user, who sends fewer than 1,000 e-mails per month, less than $1 per month. But the typical spammer, who must compensate for extremely low response rates by churning out about 100 million e-mails per month, would be socked with a $100,000 monthly bill. My guess is that 99.99% of them would go belly up instantly.

Our current Internet model is based on a stupid idea — namely, that one can provide virtually unlimited services at a fixed cost. All such models are doomed to collapse under the weight of unlimited fraud and abuse.

There is only one meaningful place to hit spammers — in the pocketbook. When it becomes prohibitively expensive to send out any significant amount of e-mail — and only then — the spam will stop. The only question in my mind is why we haven’t made it happen yet.

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