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October 30, 2005
Final Exam for CAN-SPAM
Since its passage the CAN-SPAM act has done more to enable spam than any other act by anyone. It legalized specific forms of spam, it overturned stiffer state laws, and it has gone unenforced.
The primary enforcement of this "law" has come from private parties. Microsoft, which urged the act's passage, has been the most aggressive. And they're making one more attempt to make it work, suing 13 spam gangs that use malware to turn ordinary PCs into "spam zombies."
The lawsuits should make clear a dirty little secret of the spam wars. It's homegrown. Much of the spam supposedly coming from Korea, Russia or China is actually being bounced off servers there to mask its origins.
The likelihood of this being effective in stopping spam is nil. I also disagree on the need for new laws. Instead of going after spammers, go after the people who pay for spam to be sent.
A lot of spam represents fraudulent offers and those who make those offers should be prosecuted. Shaming corporations into policing their distribution channels and re-sellers would get rid of another hunk. Illegal offes should be prosecuted under fraud statutes. Attorney General Gonzalez might enjoy prosecuting porn spammers under obscenity statutes.
Shaming can work. There is little political spam for that very reason. Candidates and causes who spam lose support. When this happens to corporations, they will take the appropriate action.
Meanwhile, we have this very expensive PR.
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