How Should Spammers Be Punished?

from the deleting-spam dept

An opinion piece comparing the recent sentencing in three different spam-related cases notes the wide disparity in the sentences -- but thinks it's a good thing. The longer sentences were given in cases where the spam was simply part of a scamming effort. The criminals were punished for the scam, not for the spam. In the one clear spamming case, the guy was given a much lighter sentence. This makes sense, but raises questions about what the proper sentence for a spammer really should be. In some cases, judges have thrown the book at spammers, sentencing them to quite a bit of time in prison. But such harsh sentences risk backfiring, turning the spammer into something of a martyr. If only there were a way to set it up so convicted spammers would be forced to delete spam all day as punishment -- now that would seem fair.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Whatever DUDE, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 11:19am

    Spam Spam

    What Spam? V iagra !1 Buy here now stolen Rolex get 20 free.

    No really If they have been given a warning & fine, then they should do some jail time. But when people get harder jail time for spam than they do fo selling Crack then we have a problem.

     

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  2.  
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    Thom LaLonde, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 11:22am

    Spammers

    Why should spammers be subject to punishment when companies who send postal junk mail are not? It seems the only difference is that when junk mail goes via the USPS the federal government gets money from it. That's a bit hypocritical, yes? Maybe spammers should have to apply for a permit to send mass emails.

     

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  3.  
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    John, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 11:31am

    Gradeschool punishment

    If convicted, the spammer should write on a blackboard "I will not send or promote SPAM" 1 billion times...

     

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  4.  
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    Eskimo, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 11:35am

    Spammers should be punished as such

    We should string them up by their ankles and drop them into a barrel full of monkies!
    *evil laugh*

     

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  5.  
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    Oliver Wendell Jones, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 11:52am

    Twist on the movie SAW

    Lock them in a cell with enough food and water to last them 30 days.

    The lock on the door is a combination lock.

    The combination for the lock is in broken up and hidden in multiple e-mails on the computer in the cell.

    There are 10,000,000,000,000 e-mails on the computer in the cell.

    Oh, and the e-mail containing the combination is disguised to look like spam.

    If that's not cruel and unusual enough, the computer is running Windows ME and the e-mail program is Lotus Notes and the connection to the network is a 28.8K modem...

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Cowboy, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 11:52am

    No Mercy

    We should cut off their hands and poke out their eyes.

     

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  7.  
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    whosawhat?, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 11:52am

    These are spammers...

    So who cares... These people are scum. Yeah, they aren't peddling crack on the corner to your children.. But I hate them just as much. They send messages that are designed to trick people.

    As far as I'm concerned I'd have no problem throwing the book at them.

     

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  8.  
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    Luke, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 12:11pm

    Bring back beheadings.

    Yup, all spammers should be escorted from sentencing to the headsman's block. Once convicted, the smallest penalty for sending spam is to be beheaded. Taring and feathering are optional.

     

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  9.  
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    Scott Kirkpatrick, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 12:22pm

    Spammers!

    I don't like spam and I have considered ways to return those insane flyers that come in to my mailbox via the USPS. It is to thepoint that I don't know what is real mail and what is junk. I simply logon to my online accounts with the creditors I have and shred my USPS mail. I wuld probably pay 5 - 10 bucks a month to receive my USPS mail electronically via a USPS email account but it would probably be filled with SPAM also.....

    Does anyone have an AOL disk or does everyone have atleast 10 of them?

     

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  10.  
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    WildZBill, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 12:30pm

    Spammers punishment

    I would like to see spammers and anyone else that clogs the internet or crashes our computers treated as terrorists.
    They are causing people to fear the internet, and internet commerce. This slows down the rapid growth we should be experiencing now. IMHO spam and viruses have caused much more damage to the economy then the terrorists ever will.
    A few years in solitary confinement, and forbidden to use any form of computer for the rest of their life (including cell phones).

     

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  11.  
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    lizard, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 12:48pm

    rabid wolverines

    i run a small server. i set up an old URL of mine that used i used to give my friends email addys with, and forgot to set the default addy to :fail:. a couple weeks later i went to put up a little guestbook so old friends could keep in touch, and surprise! the account was over its server space limit!
    67 thousand spams, in a little more than two weeks.
    not to mention my blog, which has maybe -- *maybe* five readers, yet does well over two gigs traffic per month, all referrer-log spam.
    so i've given this spam penalty a *lot* of thought and i think spammers should be staked out naked in the hot sun with their heads propped up on bloated porcupine carcasses so they can watch while rabid wolverines feast on their entrails.

     

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  12.  
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    midtoad, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Spam Spam

    spam affects potentially millions of people, whereas a crack dealer only interacts with a few people, most of whom want his stuff. How many people want the spam that's foisted on them?

     

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  13.  
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    Happy user, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Spam Spam

    Where are all these crack dealers you speak of? I'm sure it would be much easier to find a spam "dealer".

    Although, if I don't want crack, I have the choice not to receive it -- spam on the other hand, i get it whether I want it or not... and it doesn't even cost me a "dime".

    no irony here, just realistic sarcasm.

     

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  14.  
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    iahawkijake, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Spammers

    Thom -

    On the surface it may appear that the only difference is the federal government gets money...but it's not.

    There is a lot that goes into the Direct Mailing industry and the Post Office is just one of the players. Anyone who thinks that they would rather not receive "junk mail"...ok, what are you going to say then when junk mail goes away and the cost to mail a single envelope goes up to $3.50?

    Junk mail helps keep regular postage relatively cheap for the rest of us. It's an important factor in the economy.

    Simple look at the model...
    Given company wants to introduce it's new product as effectively as possible. Knowing the demographic that they are going for, they may purchase mailing lists from any number of companies files that have similar customer demographics...
    Hey...someone just got paid besides the federal government.
    Now they may contract out a printer to print 20,000 mailers...
    Hey...someone else just got paid besides the federal government.
    Now they will hire a UPS type company to drop ship bundles of these mailers to their demographic zones....
    Don't look now, but someone else just got paid.
    And finally hope that 10 out of every 100 people to receive it will actually look at it and 2 people will actually buy the product.

    The federal government is but a small aspect in the direct mailing industry...

    So back to the topic of this thread....
    What to do with Spammers? Try to legitimize it...how I don't know...but figure out a way to make it costly to send mass emails would be a good start.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Spammers

    iahawkijake, even if mass emails became legitimised -- I still wouldn't want them.

    And with your analogy said, whatever it may reduce the cost of -- I'm already perfectly happy with the current amount I'm already paying for "said item", I dint need my email to be cluttered up with misleading advertisements that infringe on my already limited time schedule.

     

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  16.  
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    anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 1:42pm

    No Subject Given

    Sorry but spammers should get the Max sentence that the Courts can allow. Plus in order to keep them from earning a income from their unlawfulness... They should also be forbidden from owning a computer, or working for any type computer company. I have no sympathy for none of them.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 1:45pm

    Death.

    (See subject)

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 1:53pm

    Perfect spamming punishment...

    Can't they just bankrupt anyone who is guilty of massively spamming?

    INSTANT BANKRUPCY! EVERY TIME.

    What's the point of doing it if you will just lose all your money in the end? Problem solved.

     

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  19.  
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    Happy user, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Perfect spamming punishment...

    Can't they just bankrupt anyone who is guilty of massively spamming?

    If that were the case, they too must delete all music they had ever purchased from Sony -- According to Sony's EULA...
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20051109/1453248_F.shtml

    This is funny.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    iahawkijake, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Spammers

    AC -
    Hey, I don't want spams either. That's not the point. I've pretty much accepted the fact that they will never go away 100%.

    Therefore my goals would be to reduce the volume.

    You think if it cost a person/organization 20k to send out a mass email communication that it wouldn't drastically impact the volumes of spam you receive. You think you would receive any more hoax spams?

    Heck, you could even go as far as taxing on top of that...and if spammers got caught trying to get around that...then you can bring them up on federal tax evasion charges. Thus negating the "uncharted waters" that the courts face when trying to deal with these people today.

    Bankrupcy is no good either...because that just costs tax payers money.

    I'm not advocating spam, I'm just trying to throw out ways to reduce it.

    Cheers

     

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  21.  
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    Christopher TruLove, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Spammers

    argh... on several counts...

    Despite the US in their moniker the post office is just a very large interstate company, they sell a service... someone buys it... as a reciever you DON'T pay for it... and the money in question goes to the USPS, not the government (think about it, if congress ran the Post Office it would cost $8 to send a post card, and it would be mandatory to do so)

    SPAM is pretty much the antithesis of that, the sender spends almost nothing to distribute it, depending on the money the the recievers have spent (in the form of the internet hardware they take advantage of), to deliver to a recipient that IS paying for their mailbox...

    it only looks the same on the surface, trying to turn it into a "The Man" argument is kind of silly, though perhaps not as silly as SPAM being a tool to illegally acquire oil or oppress non-caucasians... which I'm sure will come up eventually.

     

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  22.  
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    rata, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 3:33pm

    No Subject Given

    que les corten el pico y los cocos... asi aprenderan

     

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  23.  
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    Zonker, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 3:38pm

    All kidding aside

    Spammers are more than an annoyance. They cost people a lot of money -- I used to work for a hosting company, and I'd say at least 10 percent of our helpdesk ticket volume was related to spam in some fashion. Much of the time spent by our employees dealing with spam-related problems was not recoverable -- ie, we couldn't bill the customer for time spent helping them, nor could we recover any money from the spammer.


    There's also the bandwidth fee -- usually negligible for individuals, but for ISPs, hosting providers, large companies, etc., it adds up and ends up contributing to the bandwidth bill significantly. (Imagine a neighbor running a few extension cords into your house to power their computer, dryer, and AC.)


    So -- given the monetary burden placed on others, not to mention the scuzzballs that send out pr0n spam and end up exposing kids and unsuspecting adults to that sort of thing, spam is far enough beyond a mere annoyance to justify putting spammers away for decades. Alternately, I'd be in favor of a punishment that consists of putting a spammer alone in a room full of sysadmins with cricket bats for an hour.

     

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  24.  
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    jimmx, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 6:55pm

    Re: Spammers!

    i have about 500 aol disks but then again i collect them......they're just as fun as duct tape...lol

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 8:05pm

    They should not be punished.

    That's right, spammers should receive no punishment from the law. There is only one effective way to stop spam: punish people who respond to it.

     

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  26.  
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    SUNYIT, Nov 22nd, 2005 @ 12:45am

    Spammer's Consequence

    As punishment, they should be forced to live up to their name, on all levels, being allowed to eat only SPAM (spiced ham of course) for a given length of time, according to the severity of their crime. They should be allowed a laptop with internet, but everytime they touch the keyboard or move the mouse, a new flashing popup or spam email pops up on their screen. Justice would be served.

     

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  27.  
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    Dave, Nov 22nd, 2005 @ 2:21am

    Re: Spammers

    Why should spammers be subject to punishment when companies who send postal junk mail are not? It seems the only difference is that when junk mail goes via the USPS the federal government gets money from it. That's a bit hypocritical, yes?

    There is a difference. The snail mail spammers aren't hijacking innocent peoples' mail servers, causing them to get blacklisted, thus impinging on their own right/ability to send legitimate email.

    Maybe spammers should have to apply for a permit to send mass emails.

    Sounds like a good idea, provided that there is a suitable opt-out system, and the law comes down like a ton of bricks on spammers who don't misbehave.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Tim, Nov 22nd, 2005 @ 2:57am

    Re: Spam Spam

    > when people get harder jail time for spam than they do fo selling Crack then we have a problem.< br>
    I disagree. Chances are rather a *lot* more people are affected per minute spent sending spam than the same time spent using crack. OK, so the effects per recipient might not be so vast either - a lot of annoyed bods all having to push delete - but don't forget corporations having to buy in extra hardware to do their filtering too.

     

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  29.  
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    Rick Bliss, Nov 22nd, 2005 @ 7:51am

    How Spammers Should Be Punished...

    i think they should have to manually reply to each of the spammed adresses with an applogy. ;P

     

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  30.  
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    Whatever DUDE, Nov 23rd, 2005 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Spam Spam

    I disagree. Chances are rather a *lot* more people are affected per minute spent sending spam than the same time spent using crack. OK, so the effects per recipient might not be so vast either - a lot of annoyed bods all having to push delete - but don't forget corporations having to buy in extra hardware to do their filtering too.

    Effecting? Dude I have to deal with spam as much as the next guy on my Network. The fact still remains the same. I will find it hard to consider that a sender of Spam getting more Jail time than a Crack dealer. Really think about this for a second. "click delete" "SMOKE & DIE"

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2007 @ 10:46am

    they should be slowly tortured to death

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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