May 06, 2003

Reaction to article on REDUCE Spam Act

[This was written for a mailing-list in reaction to a column which criticized Lessig's REDUCE Spam Act]

From: Seth Finkelstein
Subject: Isolating spammers is good (was proposal to end spam ...)

> For one thing, an increasing percentage of it comes from overseas, and
> you can be certain that offshore bulk mailers will gleefully thumb their
> noses at Congress. ...
> Everyone would start quarantining ADV-tagged mail as rigorously as Hong
> Kong is isolating suspected SARS patients.
> If Lofgren's bill is enacted, U.S.-based spam operations are likely to
> shift operations elsewhere, just as gambling sites set up shop in the
> Caribbean.

Dave, can I point out that, far from being a clever Unintended Consequence, this argument is in fact something of a Straw Man. Way before Lessig, some of the most technically knowledgeable anti-spammers have not regarded spammers-will-just-set-up-shop-elsewhere as being a killer issue. That's been an argument/counter-argument right from the start over the MAPS Realtime Blackhole List. One position is that driving spammers overseas is good, because it makes them more isolated, and helps reject their connections with minimal other damage: (emphasis mine)

"And if it becomes widely known that selling e-mail or web services only to have them advertised in the text of spam is a great way to lose connectivity, then spammers will not be able to hide behind legitimate service providers and we'll smoke them out into the open, which means into using their own (blackholable) links."

The difference between gambling and spamming, is that people want to gamble, but nobody wants to be spammed. If spammers set up in the Caribbean, that's an invitation to make the Caribbean its own INTRA-net.

Note, by the way, the article also contradicts itself. The same "overseas" issue would apply to "long-standing common law rights" too - an approval of Blackstone over Lessig is purely ideological, not technological.

A law which helps to burden spammers, to isolate them, to deny them operations in a country, can thus be part of a solution, even without any international treaty.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in spam | on May 06, 2003 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups

Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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