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Senator Says Spammers Have First-Amendment Rights 453

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-they-do dept.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), while joining Rep. Gephardt (D-MO) in a discussion of how Democrats are the "guardians of the New Economy," noted that opt-out is better, because it gives companies their first ammendment right to contact you. I agree, companies do have a right to contact me. But they should be required to pay "postage" for that right. I think spammers should pay a penny per k to both me and my ISP. A 5k spam would cost a dime. Still less then a stamp, but it'd make me a few hundred bucks a month for my time, bandwidth, and hardware costs. Spammers take away my property and happiness. Isn't that a right too? And opt-out is a joke. I've opted out of countless things, but I still get a hundred+ spams a day. Thank god for mail filters.
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Senator Says Spammers Have First-Amendment Rights

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  • You know what they use opt-out for? To VERIFY that YOUR EMAIL is VALID and ACTIVE! No WONDER you get hundreds of spams a day!

    - A.P.

    --

  • "The next thing you'll be saying is telemarketers should pay you money for using YOUR PERSONAL PHONE, for the money it cost you on your phone bill because you were talking with them for a few seconds, some money for rent to have a place to keep the phone, money for food for you to have the energy to pick up the phone and talk, etc., etc."

    Sure. Why not?

    In the olden days, we lived in villages or towns. There's only so many people who can _try_ to contact you in a village- and in fact there's case law where if someone in the village decided to bang on your door and shout in your windows 24/7, they'd be harassing you and the law would tell them to stop or be stopped.

    The difference between now and then is technology and the expansion of possible contacts, and nothing illustrates this better than the Internet.

    When every stupid peddler in the world can 'contact' MILLIONS OF PEOPLE with relative ease, the rules have changed. Any given peddler may or may not have a 'right' to 'contact' me, but the CLASS of stupid peddlers obviously do not have the right to perform a denial of service attack on my email account, or for that matter to consume many hours out of my day while I grovel through the thousands of emails to try and look for actual communications from people I need to talk to. Filters don't completely solve this, either. They don't scale that much better than hitting 'delete'.

    I don't know exactly what needs to be done to give stupid peddlers the capacity to market to people (maybe *gasp* BUYING ADVERTISING?) but in a situation of hyperconnectivity, 'cold calling' is no good. They just hook up a big machine and cold-call EVERYBODY, just like the telemarketer machines that dial more numbers than the operators can handle. Technology brings the connectivity to a point where the old rules don't make sense any more. We need new rules better suited to the situation.

  • Why don't all slashdot readers send Ron Wyden some spam mail. You know, tell him how he can get rich by working at home, or how he can lose weight real fast.

    Most of the spam I've gotten lately has been offering me merchant accounts for accepting credit card payments. Maybe if I forwarded one of them to Wyden, he could set himself up with a merchant account and accept bribes by credit card! Far more convenient than the old brown paper bag full of twenties!

  • Yep. I chagned, first to voicestream (Accually I had Verizion for a while but didn't like their service) for my phone service. Since I can't afford cell prices for my comptuer I eventially moved. Around Minneapolis there are three local monopoly phone companies that I know of. (Qwest, TDS, and sprint/united) There are also cable and satalite for computers, and wireless is coming. I'm sure not everyone has the latter option, but if you look you could be surprized.

  • Sounds like my cell phone. If you've got telemarketers calling your cell phone number all the time wanting to introduce you to the wonderful world of pay-per-play pornography over the phone don't you think you'd be a little perturbed as well considering you pay for calls you receive? Just like e-mail.
  • Well I agree with Social Security, but Federal Income taxes do *some* good.

    If you drive on an Interstate Highway, most state highways and most bridges in the US, then your taxes are helping to pay for them and thier upkeep.

    If you like your imported beer/food/cars/whatever, tax dollars are spent to keep the sea lanes open, the costal waters safe and make sure things are inspected at various Federal levels, with some of that Tax money.

    Since 1945, Income tax dollars have gone to defending Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and the US so we can buy all these neat things and sell them fewer neat things than we buy from them.

    I've always had to argue with people that saying "my tax money is wasted", because in most cases, people in the US get something back for thier tax dollars.

    As for the Free Speech aspects of spam...I've got to think about that.
  • According to Senator Ron Wyden's web site (http://wyden.senate.gov/), he wants you to fill out a form rather than send an email as he get's too many emails and that will be the fastest way to get a response... hmmmm, I wonder if he get's too many spams. Judging by the source of his mail page, his email address is: senator_wyden@exchange.senate.gov. Of course, he has staff filtering emails for him. Too bad his personal email address isn't so easy to find... adding it to lots of spam lists might just change his opinion. He obviously does not care for individuals, just corporations, or else he would have been talking about "opt-in" lists, not "opt-out". Not only is he siding with corporate spammers, he's wasting taxpayer's money on staff who have to filter the spam from his inbox!

  • After trying various complicated ways of screening out spam before it hit my inbox, I now simply use a procmail filter which puts any email containing any of the following phrases into a 'spam' mailbox:

    "remove" in subject line
    "remove" in the subject
    'remove' in the subject
    removal instructions
    remove in subject line
    remove in the subject
    to be permanently removed
    to be removed
    to be taken off
    to get off the list
    to get off this list
    to get removed
    to remove yourself

    In a month of using this filter, it's reduced the spam I get by 2/3 (it caught 300 of the 450 spams I received in the past four weeks), and it hasn't yet accidentally marked even a single non-spam as spam. I add new phrases as I see new spam slip through the filter. (Next up: I need to add "S.1618" and "S. 1618" to the list.)

    Each one of these is wrapped in a simple procmail recipe, as such:

    :0
    * B ?? to be removed
    /home/brian/spambox

    It's not the most efficient thing in the world, but it's simple and it works. I hope this idea is of use to others. :-)

  • Furthermore, why is the only solution to party difficulties "bipartisanship"? As if they're the only two games in town.

    Annoys the hell out of me. :-)

    -l
  • Yeah, pretty much. I'd like to see Texas (where I live) switch over to proportional congresscritters. I need to read more on the subject, but last I read, the Founders were against a two-party system, but the States ended up encouraging it (intentionally or not) through the winner-take-all stakes that you mentioned.

    Now if we just had referendum rights here, too...

    -l
  • Just double the size of the hash you want to compute every 18 months. Call it "Back's Law" and send a beer to Moore every 18 months while you're at it.

    If we got rid of the small time spammers we'd get rid of 90% of the spam out there. Do you think it's companies like Yahoo and IBM that are sending you messages about the latest Britney Spears video?
    --
  • Why can't some clever judge or lawyer find a way to stretch 47 USC sec. 227 to cover spammers sending unwanted "facsimiles" of the original of their email that they typed up to every address they can get their hands on? Facsimile meant a close approximation or copy of something long before there were wires to transmit them over, and the original intent of the writers of that law was to prevent cost shifting.
  • by ewhac (5844) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:58PM (#134122) Homepage Journal

    Naturally, the direct marketers are trying to control the debate by controlling the terminology, harping on the (deceptive) meme: Advertising is Speech.

    I offer a counter-meme: Advertising is Pollution.

    What is pollution? It's stuff that's introduced into an environment where it doesn't belong or isn't wanted.

    Empty beer cans don't belong in the street. They interfere with the flow of traffic. They are an eyesore. It reduces the street's utility by getting in the way of where you want or need to go. They are also a health and safety hazard. Even if there weren't laws against littering in the street, social forces would operate to compel people to not litter. It is, as best, impolite; at worst, monsterously destructive to the environment and quality of life.

    Advertising is nearly identical. It interferes with the normal flow of information. It's an eyesore. It reduces the utility of the info-sphere by interposing itself between you and what you want or need to know. It is also intentionally deceptive. Yet purveyors of advertising portray themselves as a necessary, indispensible part of modern captialist society, when in fact what they're doing is willfully polluting the info-sphere with stuff they know isn't wanted by anyone.

    Tell me: How is cold-calling me at dinnertime trying to convince me to switch long-distance carriers a benefit to my household, the community, and society as a whole? How is stuffing my snailmail box with pulp paper coupons offering 3% discounts on crap I've never tried a good thing for me? How many lovely trees have been killed to print and mail this garbage which, in my case, goes straight into the recycling bin, unread? Why should I support wasting bandwidth to distribute deceptive scams and snakeoil, bandwidth that I could be using to lose at Quake and HalfLife?

    Just as there are appropriate places for empty beer cans, there are appropriate places for Internet advertising. The social order of the Internet has unequivocally decided that advertising is pollution, and when it appears in unsanctioned areas, it will not tolerated. Period.

    You have a right to speak. You have no right to pollute. Get over it.

    Schwab

  • Right on. Passing laws about spam just makes legislators think it's okay to pass laws regulating other aspects of online speech. I'd say it's worth a little extra annoyance to keep government net regulations *which are inevitably dumbassed* from being passed. The idea that we need the government messing in our private affairs because self-regulation is too hard (waah!) is just falling into the trap that keeps professional politicians in business. Either get a technical work-around, learn to live with spam, or simply stop using email. Just fer chrissakes, don't go whining to the government.
  • by PD (9577) <slashdotlinux@pdrap.org> on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:12PM (#134129) Homepage Journal
    I guess it must be legal for me to call the senator at his house 400 times a day. IT'S MY RIGHT.

    I guess that I can knock on his front door 400 times a day too. I just want to sell him some subscriptions to a pr0n site.

    We need more senators like this, expanding the rights of Americans everywhere. Anyone know his address? I want to personally deliver a dump truck of spam and manure to his home address. That's my right too.

  • by Mike Buddha (10734) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:44PM (#134131)
    If a person has the right to send spam, then honoring an opt-out list is purely optional.

    I understand that we have a right to speak our mind in any forum, but there is no constitutional guarantee of an audience. It's pure crap that we have to pay for the priviledge of being an audience for garbage communications. It'd be one thing if the internet were provided to citizens free of charge, but the same way it's illegal for telemarketers to call cell phones, it ought to be illegal for spammers to contact those who do not actively seek advertisements. Apparently the first amendment doesn't apply to cell phones, setting the precedent for restricting unsolicited e-mail on the internet.
  • ``Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), while joining Rep. Gephardt (D-MO) in a discussion of how Democrats are the "guardians of the New Economy," noted that opt-out is better, because it gives companies their first ammendment right to contact you.''

    And to think the Republicans are the ones who are supposed to be so pro-business.

    ``And opt-out is a joke. I've opted out of countless things, but I still get a hundred+ spams a day.''

    Bet you don't get any more spam from the companies that you ``opted out'' from. Only problem is that those companies probably accumulate a list of opt-outs and sell it to some other company so they can spam you. ``Hey, Ted, how's it going? Nah. Wish I could but I can't. I have a golf outing. Say, I gotta list here of people who don't want our junk emails any more. Maybe they won't mind hearing from you. How much will you give me for it?''


    --

  • You WILL be paying for packets.

    What, you mean my internet access is supposed to be free? Those dirty cheaters at my ISP told me I have to PAY for it already!

    But facetiousness aside, we ARE paying for it. It's often on a flat-rate basis (much like local phone calls and basic cable TV services) rather than a "per-packet" basis, but it is paid for. Spammers can use the same services - though I get the impression that just about every ISP has a service agreement that says [to paraphrase] "our service is not for sending spam, so don't do it or we'll kick you off". (I suspect ISP's who DON'T have this in their acceptable use terms in the contracts get blacklisted pretty quickly...)


    ---
  • I have the impression that in the past year, US politicians and US political advisors looked at the spam issue and started to think of unsolicited email as their future tool in election campaigns.

    Now, they are trying to make it legit. For political campaigns, of course. They may outlaw it for commercial spam, but there will be attempts to legitimize political spam.

    And trust me, unless there is a real outcry against it, there will be political spam in the future. Already now, despite the fact that nobody likes telemarketing (do you?), the Bush campaign relied heavily on it, even used pre-recorded messages and questionable procedures that are usually considered a bad thing in telemarketing - and the Bush team later called it a valuable and working tool.

    There have already been a few small incidents of US politicians spamming. Most of these attempts backfired, but from what I read, it appears to me that even after some "net oldtimers" protested, the political campaign teams did not actually think they did something wrong.

    ------------------
  • Not Gephardt. Can't you even read the little blurb on /. (much less the article itself)?

  • People have a right to send email. It's speech. There is no "clear and present danger" or anything like that, so those people who are trying to analogize this to yelling "fire" in a theater are just plain wrong. As for taking your property: you do have a right to control your property, yes; property rights are human rights. But getting email does not take any of your property. By running a mail client you are, in fact, giving a clear indication that you want to get email.

    As for happiness: there is no such right. What fools these mortals be. Even the pursuit of happiness you have no Constitutional right to, though Tom Jefferson liked the phrase as a substitute for the more controvertial "property".

    Even if there was shown to be some compelling government interest in stopping spam, any law to that end would still have to deal with strict scrutiny from the courts. And in this case, technical means can deal with the problem. I think they can do so adequately now, but perhaps it is too hard for most people. Even so, they should do so fine in a year or two.

    Let us regard the long sweep of time and realize how foolish it would be to sacrifice even a tiny chunk of our right of free speech for a few years of the security of slightly less spam.

  • You wouldn't believe how many times I've heard that. ;)

    It great working at a company with a giant banner like that by the front door, though. And it looks ten times more evil in black on a red background.
  • by Rayban (13436) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @03:21PM (#134141) Homepage
    I work for a company called Javien [javien.com] that works on a suite of products, one of which is a mail filter that does exactly this. You can set up a toll to send to unknown mail recipients that will let the message through *only* if they have paid it.

    It works in combination with our Micropay server (connected with Paypal [paypal.com] and eventually a number of other money transfer systems) so that the spammers can essentially pay you postage for sending you mail. We're about to release a Windows client (only days away), but a Linux one is in the works...

    Take a look at the product sheet here [javien.com] for more info

  • What about sending porno spam? Is this considered free speach? What about when this porn ends up in a minors mailbox and the parents of that child do not want him / her to be seeing that? What about the people that are offended by porn? What about my right to not recieve unsolicited email? My email address is not so that others can send me email at will, but so that those that I know can send me email. I am tired of recieving porn from some woman I don't know or want to know.

    I don't want a lot, I just want it all!
    Flame away, I have a hose!

  • Are people who instantiate Denial of Service attacks also protected by their first amendment rights? And what about 4th amendment rights?
    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" (expanded to cover privacy in general usage)

    Neither of these are even political speech. Anyone have their real email and home (Not office!) phone numbers?
  • FORCING CRAP INTO PEOPLE'S INBOXES SHOULD NOT BE COVERED.

    If you are running a server that happily and consentually accepts the connection, then it's hardly force, is it?


    ---
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @01:31PM (#134151) Homepage Journal

    I agree that spammers have the right to send mail to anyone who is willing to receive it. And if you're running a SMTP server on the Internet and it accepts mail from anyone, then that means you're willing to receive spam.

    BUT I also assert that using fake return addresses is a form of fraud, and the First Ammendment does not give you the right to defraud. If it does, then I'm going to start selling bridges and Florida real estate.

    Don't fake your headers, and you're in the clear. Of course, the whole reason for faking headers and using open relays is to avoid accountability, because you don't want your "potential customers" to talk back.

    The First Ammendment assures you're allowed to say it, but it doesn't assure that you're not responsible for what you say.


    ---
  • And that's the appropriate answer. What's needed is improved filtering software, not more laws. They have the right to talk, but we don't need to listen.

    More laws is usually a very bad answer. I think that this is another case were solving a problem by throwing laws at it is a bad answer. But private entities have the right to not transmit things. Private individuals have the right to not receive things.

    Mail programs would also need to be a bit more intelligent. They would need to be able, e.g., to decide to not download large messages without explicit approval. It would be best if they were able to download the first part of a message and examine that before deciding whether or not to continue. Say, a 5KB chunk of the message. Anyone should be able to say enough in that space to allow the recipient to decide whether or not to download the rest.


    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • one penny to both the user and the ISP.

    5k mail, 5 cents to the user, 5 cents to the ISP.
  • I found 2 quotes on similar issues, both apply here.


    "[They] have come to court not because their
    freedom of speech is seriously threatened but
    because their profits are; to dress up their
    complaints in First Amendment garb
    demeans the principles for which the First Amendment
    stands and the protections it was designed
    to afford."


    Federal Judge Stanley Sporkin , Turner Broadcasting v. FCC

    And:


    "Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen
    to or to view any unwanted communication,
    whatever its merit. . . We therefore categorically
    reject the argument that a vendor has the right
    under the Constitution or otherwise to send
    unwanted material into the home of another...
    We repeat, the right of a mailer stops at the outer
    boundary of every person's domain."



    No name to accredit it to, but: Rowan v. U.S. Post Office

    Quotes taken from http://www.cauce.org/about/faq.shtml#censorship [cauce.org]

    Please support the effort to outlaw spam. See CAUCE [cauce.org] for more information.
  • You agreed to accept whatever it sends you the moment you connected to it, just as you agree to accept ads by turning on a television set.

    Is that true? Hope you remember you said that if you ever get DoS attacked, get a virus on your computer, or get your computer cracked. After all "the Internet is a public forum. You agreed to accept whatever it sends you the moment you connected to it.

    -Wintermute
  • Spam is NOT protected speech because of the following criminal and civil violations:

    • Spammers trespass on the computing facilities of other people when they send their crap
    • Spammers steal resources from other people such as bandwidth, disk space, time and money
    • Spammers are usually violating the Terms of Service of an Internet provider, because most IP's expressly forbid spamming
    • Spammers who forge the point of origin of an e-mail with fake From or Received headers are committing fraud
    • Spammers who use the trademarks of businesses in their messages without permission are infringing on those trademarks
    • Pornographic spammers are sexually harassing many people, and in some cases are even transmitting pornography to minors
    • Spammers who spam indiscriminately may send their spam to e-mail addresses to people in foreign countries who may have much stricter laws
    • Spammers who crash computers with their spam are committing criminal acts that can attract prison terms

    The First Amendment to the American Constitution does not in any way restrict legislators from passing other laws to protect the rights and property of other people. I cannot legally break into the home of prospective employers to read them my resume. I cannot legally deface buildings with messages I consider important. I cannot legally erect an advertising billboard on someone else's property without permission.

    So why should spam be treated any differently?
    --

  • by B.D.Mills (18626) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @04:18PM (#134167)

    I had a truly evil idea recently that might just work.

    We can address the spamming problem by spamming the DMA. They list e-mail addresses on the Internet on this page:

    http://www.the-dma.org/aboutdma/contactthedma.shtm l [the-dma.org]

    What we can do is compose an anti-spam message and send it to all the addresses listed on this page. The following guidelines are needed for maximum effectiveness and legality.

    • Valid Reply-to or From address.
    • Accurate subject line. You may not need to include "ADV:" because you are not selling a product, and this is a bad idea anyway because you don't want the DMA to filter the message.
    • Removal instructions, with a statement that the e-mail is sent on a strictly opt-out basis according to current DMA guidelines. (Take THAT!)
    • Comply with removal requests.
    • Do not mailbomb. Send the messages no more frequently than once every 3 hours. There is no risk of overloading their mail server this way because you will only be sending about a dozen e-mails at a time.
    • Include a statement which says the message is not spam because it is a part of a targeted marketing campaign. (Take THAT! Oh, the irony!)
    • Personally address all the mail with correct To: and CC: headers. This helps evade many filters.

    The point of the exercise is to give the DMA a practical demonstration of the perils of an opt-out marketing campaign.

    The DMA will eventually start requesting removal. Comply with all requests. At this time you will need a new message, with new From, Reply-To and Subject headers, and new content.

    If enough people do this, we can disrupt the DMA's e-mail system, and give them a practical demonstration on the problems that unfettered spamming will cause.
    --

  • not true. Since sending email is effectively free, many spammers use the Rumplestiltskin Attack [bignosebird.com] to guess email addresses. If your Hotmail email is something common like joe@hotmail.com [mailto], you will probably get more spam than mr_gerbik_23423487@hotmail.com [mailto].
  • > I think these senators don't comprehend the reality with spam; that is, 99% of it has false origin information and has an opt-out scheme that doesn't work or only results in more spam.

    Yes, clearly these guys don't read their own mail, or else they'd know that you would have to "opt out" in a 1:1 ratio with the number of spam messages you get.

    > Adam Back has an interesting proposal called Hash Cash.

    I was thinking about a program that would compute my (mutable) e-dress from the current time and a secret key. I would change my e-dress on my end every day or so (more often, if necessary), and give the program and my personal key to my family and friends so that they could calculate the proper address at the time they launched the message.

    If I built the program into a mailer, they could just enter the key into their database once, and then the mailer would automatically convert my nominal e-dress into my current actual e-dress for them.

    This scheme does have a few problems. The biggest one is that it would make it impossible for people without your key to contact you, even for legitimate purposes. Another is that a down server might delay your friends' mail long enough for the destination name to change. Yet another is that it would make things hard for mailing lists, though in principle there's no reason they couldn't use the translation program; you would just include a key in your opt-in subscription message.

    At any rate, it's the core of an idea. Maybe someone can work out a solution to the problems it poses.

    --
  • > Jesus! Anyone know an easier way to get through to these folks via email?!

    They're pro spam, but they don't want e-mail from concerned citizens?

    --
  • > I have the impression that in the past year, US politicians and US political advisors looked at the spam issue and started to think of unsolicited email as their future tool in election campaigns.

    Surely an element of that; surely an element of sucking up to business interests.

    I was going to suggest that what we need to do is sit back until some other country is foolish enough to provide a legal mandate for spam and then watch their portion of the internet collapse under the exponential growth in message rates.

    Then I remembered that lots of US politicians don't like the internet, so now I have another suspicion about what might motivate their pro-spam stance.

    --
  • > everyone I know are put in my white list and automatically get sorted in a "Safe Inbox".

    The problem I have is that I'm still on a dialup connection, and I get tired of spending several minutes downloading huge HTML-saturated messages with .doc attachments, just to delete them afterwards.

    I guess I need to find/write a front end that will identify spam on the server and delete it there without ever downloading it.

    --
  • I just think that the spam sent should have a proper subject/from address, period.
    You should *absolutely* be able to respond to the owners using the same medium they used to contact you (email), and the subject should not be misleading in any way. If they are offering you cheap loans, the subject should be 'Cheap loan offer'. Not 'Hey bill, check this out!'
  • Where in the First Amendment does it say that a company/person has the right to invade my home/place of work with information I do not want?
  • IANACS (I am not a constitutional scholar :P), but 1st Amendment rights to free speech/press etc. is one thing, "freedom" to try to get you to part with your cash to purchase my product or service is another.

    SPAM legislation shouldn't (and doesn't so far as I know) attempt to regulate unsolicited political, religious, philosophical, or just plain stupid content. I think there would be some genuine 1st amendment issues in the U.S. if it did.

    A question:
    - would it be the 1st amendment rights of the companies that would prevent us from legislating away their ability to send us junk mail in meatspace?

    I think Taco's half-serious(?) suggestion to impose "postage" on UCE points to one of the root problems of UCE: damn little cost for the sender. Even if we could incorporate some of the opt-out facilities available to us with meatspace junkmail, i.e., contact the DMA (direct marketing assoc?) and basically opt-out of receiving junk mail from all/most(?) of their member companies, that doesn't address the thousands/millions of individual, fly-by-night companies, MLM schemers, etc. who can't afford the 3rd class postage to bludgeon the universe with paper junk mail but can sure afford to click the send button on their email client.

    Legislators are wrong to think that opt-out insofar as it may work for paper junk mail and phone calls applies in the same way to UCE.
  • by mistered (28404) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @01:14PM (#134188)
    Several points.

    First, I would be more than happy to get rid of a lot of the small-time spammers. I'd like to stop getting "30 million addresses!!!!!!!" spams sent from some teenager's basement. I'd like to get rid of the "I'm HOT and WAITING for YOU" spam. I think Hash Cash could help here.

    Second, the argument that hardware gets cheaper and faster everyday doesn't negate any benefit of Hash Cash or similar schemes; I'll just charge more every year. Last year you needed 16 bits to send me an email, now I want 25 bits. (Based on Moore's law, inflation should be around 160% / year.)

    Third, lets say I require you to use about 10 seconds on a decent current desktop machine. If you want to send me an individual email, I don't think you'd mind waiting the ten seconds. I certainly wouldn't. Once I find out you're not a spammer, I'll let you send me email for free. Now, let's say a spammer wants to send out 1 million emails, and that he's got 10 decent desktop machines solely dedicated to computing hashes. It's going to take him more than a week to send out his email, at which time his angelfire webhosting account and hotmail email address will be long gone.

    Even if companies like IBM, Sears or Microsoft want to get a huge farm to compute hashes and send out spam, I'd be reasonably confident that traditional measures (i.e. phone them or email them and tell them to stop bugging you) would be effective.
  • by mistered (28404) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:21PM (#134189)
    I think these senators don't comprehend the reality with spam; that is, 99% of it has false origin information and has an opt-out scheme that doesn't work or only results in more spam.

    However, I don't believe in making laws against spam. They'll always be outdated and interfere with legimate uses of email, since it can be very hard to define exactly what is spam. (Someone taking my address from a newsgroup posting and trying to sell me printer toner is spamming, but how about an email from a company I bought something from a year ago?)

    Adam Back [cypherspace.org] has an interesting proposal called Hash Cash [cypherspace.org]. The idea is that if you want to send me an email, you have to burn some CPU cycles to compute a partial hash collision. I choose how many bits are required. Friends and family can send me email for free. I'll charge a few bits for the store I shooped at last week, and even more for people I don't know. If you're in ORBS or MAPS, perhaps I'll charge even more.

  • So if I overload a server with a bunch of IP packets, it's Denial Of Service. If I do it from a few different locations, then it's DDOS. But if those packets contain useless email advertisements, then it's speech and it's OK?
  • I don't know exactly what needs to be done to give stupid peddlers the capacity to market to people (maybe *gasp* BUYING ADVERTISING?) but in a situation of hyperconnectivity, 'cold calling' is no good. They just hook up a big machine and cold-call EVERYBODY, just like the telemarketer machines that dial more numbers than the operators can handle.

    Including people who could not possibly buy their products in the first place. Because the stuipd peddler only peddles to people withing a few hundred miles of where they are. But sprews their junk to the entire planet.
  • Email spam comes from one-man operations - some dork who bought a CD of emails and spam proggies of Ebay for $10 - and his 486. Together, they pump out thousands of emails a day. It is the very ability to flood email boxes with spam for no cost that separates it from other forms of unsolicited communication.

    Maybe a better analogy would be someone setting up a pirate radio station to hawk their stuff...
  • How can we honor both the first amendment and a right to privacy, to keep from being spammed? This really is quite easy, because of some of the inherent nature of spam.

    The first amendment "right to contact me" is an illusion. No one has a right to contact me under applicable law, except in a traditional public forum. However, the government cannot, and should not be able to either: preclude speech on the internt, nor to impose an obligation to engage in speech of a particular type on the internet.

    Most spam regulation is losing on at least one of these points. Either the spam regulation says that, because of the content of my spam, I cannot send it to you. Or the spam regulation says that, because of the content of my spam, I must send it to you with a message labelling it.

    There is adequate authority, at least, to raise credible first amendment arguments in each case. Certainly enough to challenge legislation and slow down meaningful regulation.

    BUT THERE IS A WAY TO DO THIS. Constitutionally, and effectively!

    Instead of REQUIRING a label for spam, or BARRING the mailing of spam, simply make it a crime to MISREPRESENT how the message was sent.

    First amendment law prohibits government regulation of truthful speech, but it CLEARLY permits regulation against false speech.

    So we pass a law making it a crime to send spam designating the message as non-spam!

    Why would that work? Because after that law is passed, we make it an internet convention to tag almost all mail as non-spam! If everyone does this, we can now filter for spam, at least the spam that is sent by people who are concerned about violating the law.

    I'm working on a white paper now to spell out the details. And there are quite a few details. But the gist of this works.

    Of course, it doesn't stop the traffic, at some level. On the other hand, it DOES stop the incentive to spam, and thereby allows stopping it at significant choke points.

    And all it requires is the will of the net infrastructure to label non-spam as non-spam -- a process that can be made automatic and virtually trivial.
  • In commercial settings give out a different email address that map to the same mail box each time rather than having just one. You'll be able to tell if it was your mom or the phone company that got you on a spammers list.

    I'm sure there's a business model in there somewhere.
  • Mailing someone is (roughly) the same as emailing them. Companies have to pay to mail something to me, why shouldn't they pay to email something to me? Telemarketers have to pay for all of the many phone lines they use to call me and 1000 other people in a 12 hour period. Spammers only need to borrow one computer for 10 seconds to spam a million people.

    Although I guess it SHOULD be a company's right to call me (I hate it, though) at least make them pay for it like every other means of bothering me without my permission.

    He's not talking about limiting speech, just making them pay for their usage of the hardware medium they choose. They can come to my door for free and speak all they want. They shouldn't, however, be able to use the computer resources _I_ pay for to bother me.

  • I know this is a sticky area that would never actually work, but maybe they should pay more for mass emailings or something. I know they would get around it (by writing scripts or whatever). I just think that SPAMmers should have to pay more for the mail they send. Making them pay more while normal emailers pay the same as they do now is the tricky part.

    As for your other arguments, the mailbox is actually government property (even though you paid for it) so the money goes to the govt when they send junk mail. Also, it doesn't cost you anything to receive mail does it? There is a small upfront cost of the physical box, but after that there is no cost to you for the mail put in there. With email, every message uses resources you pay for (ISP, email address, your hard drive space) every time (small amounts, sure, but still it costs something every time). So, there is both an upfront charge (your computer) and a per message charge with email; that is the difference as I see it.

    The garbage service is probably required wherever you live anyway (apt complex, housing addition, etc) regardless of the junk mail you receive or the amount you receive. If it isn't required, you can always dump it at the local bin behind the supermarket (don't even make an extra trip, just do it everytime you go shopping somewhere). That costs you nothing (if you don't make a special trash trip).

  • Assuming I get charged for bandwidth (since, in a sense, I do when I pay tuition), they are using more bandwidth per email than I would normally need. This bandwidth costs money. Telemarketers call me and use my resources, sure, but I don't get charged extra for each call like is the case with email. If they got ahold of my cell phone #, though, I'd be super-pissed because that is the same as spamming, since I DO pay for 'bandwidth' in terms of minutes.

    Besides, there are many "free" ISPs out there that spammers can use. They can also borrow someone else's account or use one account for 50 people at the same time (firewall networking). You can't really do that with Telemarketing or Junk Mail. One email sent to 1,000,000 people only uses a very small amount of "their" bandwidth. Once it leaves their mail server, though, it uses the bandwidth of 1,000,000 people. Telemarketing and Junk Mail costs the company one "item" per person it contacts. Spammers are only charged one "item" per bulk email (possibly millions of people).

  • by boarder (41071)
    I forgot to answer the question about whom they should pay. That is a very hard question, but I guess the only fair answer is the govt since they are using their resources for most of the email's journey. I don't want to get paid per SPAM, I would just be happy to make sure they paid a fair amount to SOMEONE for annoying me.
  • I don't really know as much about the infrastructure of the internet as I guess I should, but I thought the govt took over control of the backbone from the original companies. I also thought that, since the internet was original govt project, part of it was still owned by them. If the govt doesn't own any of the infrastructure, then spammers should pay whoever owns/maintains it.
  • by Flounder (42112) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:08PM (#134205)
    So, if Opt-Out is the way to go, when can I opt-out of paying Income Tax and Social Security? Neither one is doing me any good. The government will have their First Amendment rights, while I'll have my Fourth and Tenth Amendment rights.
  • Obnoxious? Yes. But with the huge money to be made I think it's only a matter of time before things go this route. Non-spamming ISPs will become rare... only small ISPs will want to refuse the income, because their small user base won't make it worth backlash. But as more and more small ISPs get bought out or go under, there will be fewer and fewer places to run...

    This makes me glad I run my own mail server. All I want/expect from my cable-modem provider is a fat pipe to the Internet. All the spam in the world can go to foo@lvcm.com; it'll never show up on my machine. (Then again, I'm using a commercial account, so there wouldn't be much point in spamming it anyway.)

  • Whenever you get spammed by someone with an 800 number call... repetedly... give them some costs too...

    Make sure to call from a pay phone; it costs more. Plus, if you call from home, they will have your phone number (even if you try to block it). I knew some people who would carry a list of 800 numbers and would call them from pay phones at the metro or grocery.

    At any given phone, this might only work for a little while. I once tried this tactic against a group of gun-grabbers. Four calls got through before they started blocking calls from the payphone I was using.

    I suppose you could go hunting for payphones and tie all of them up...with people who (for whatever reason) want to get through unable to do so, maybe this would still qualify in some small way as a kind of DoS attack.

  • What this clueless congresscritter needs to learn is that spamming is NOT a free speech issue, it's a property rights issue.

    MY computer, and MY fax machine, are not a public utility for "Make Money Fast" scammers to use at their convenience. I'm sure they'd love to break into my house and paint a billboard on my living room wall too, but I'm not about to let them do that.

    If an advertiser wants to contact me, they can do it at their own expense by buying legitimate advertising placements.

    This senator needs to be buried in an avalanche of letters.

    -jcr
  • We just need to make corporations not-people again.

    Sony has first amenedment rights? Sad but true. And wrong.

    - - - - -
  • What a couple of assholes. They're passing a law saying we have to put up with spam, because Companies Got Rights, and they don't even have email addresses themselves.

    - - - - -
  • According to this [evote.com], his email address is gephardt@mail.house.gov [mailto]


    - - - - -
  • From: "Gephardt, Richard" <Gephardt@mail.house.gov>
    To: (me)
    Subject: RE: test
    Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 18:37:55 -0400

    Thank you for your e-mail. I appreciate hearing
    from you.

    Due to the high volume of e-mails my office receives, I cannot guarantee a response to every message. However, if you reside in the Third Congressional District of Missouri, which I represent, and would like a written response, please resubmit your comments through

    http://www.house.gov/writerep. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

    If you reside in the Third Congressional District of
    Missouri and wish to request Capitol/White House tours, or if you have a problem with a Federal agency, please contact one of my congressional offices.

    St. Louis: (314) 894-3400
    Washington, D.C.: (202) 225-2671
    Festus: (636) 937-6399


    - - - - -
  • > Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will help on this issue.

    Because the DMA's lobbyists contribute more to campaign coffers than you and I can ever hope to.

    > If you made Spam illegal how else would they meet attractive barely-legal teens in nearby colleges who need to meet men?

    Funny, I thought that's what Congress was for.

    The right to swap h0t t33n 1nt3rn pu55y for political favors is part of the package, is it not?

  • except for some very specific exceptions..

    I bet some of those specific exceptions include pornographic pictures (I notice that my Fax Machine and my Snail Mail Box are not cluttered with Porn Pictures, but with non pornographic junk ads).

    90% of the Spam in my inbox is something I consider to be pornographic.

  • by PurpleBob (63566) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @01:22PM (#134226)
    Bullshit.

    Your niece probably doesn't get such spam because she simply hasn't been on the Internet long enough, or because she knows not to post her real e-mail address except when necessary. The spam-scrapers will pick up any e-mail address that they find on USENET or the Web, and they certainly do NOT go to the effort of checking whether the person at that address has visited porn sites before selling that list to a porn site.

    It is entirely possible that DoubleClick somehow manages to correlate cookies with e-mail addresses, but if an email-list seller relied exclusively on data from DoubleClick he wouldn't get nearly enough addresses to advertise "1 MILLION E-MAIL ADDRESSES JUST $199.99!!!" Spammers get addresses from any source possible, not one particular source.

    You sound disturbingly pro-spam, with your attempt to make it seem like it's the user's fault for recieving spam, and it gives you a nice ad-hominem attack against the original poster as well. The tone of your message implies: "Well, you wouldn't be getting all that spam if you weren't a PERVERTED PORN FIEND."

    Spammers will spam anyone and everyone possible. They cannot and do not go to the effort of attempting to target their advertisements.
    --

  • Heh. Look at Wyden's HTML... there's an e-mail address specified as part of the form action.

    So that's senator_wyden@exchange.senate.gov [mailto], it looks like.

    Gephardt, unfortunately, seems to require users to go through the "Write Your Representative" cgi-bin, which isn't nearly as revealing.
  • The First Amendment does not establish the right to send me e-mail.

    I agree...but i'd go so far as to say the First Amendment doesn't give anyone the right to even talk to you if you don't want them to. I feel that the first amendment promises that should I want to say something, people may CHOOSE to listen to me. But they may also choose not to. Of course this right to speach also implies the right to listen.
  • No, its not their legal right to contact you. Maybe one time, and if you tell them to fuck off, they do not have any right to contact you. Are you trying to tell us that ANYONE that wants to talk to me has a legal right to do so??? I don't think so...
  • Okay, but seriously. EVERYONE please contact these two and tell them how STUPID this is. Contact info:

    Wyden: is a dick and doesn't even want to hear from anyone outside of Oregon. Too bad for him. Doesn't post his email address online, but hit his contact page [senate.gov] and leave a note.

    Gephardt: is actually a house member, not a senator. Also resists communication from citizens outside the 3rd district of MO. The only way I found to email him is to start at his contact page [house.gov], click the "email" link, and pretend you're from that district.

    Jesus! Anyone know an easier way to get through to these folks via email?!

    ---

  • by selectspec (74651) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @01:59PM (#134237)
    Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will help on this issue. If you made Spam illegal how else would they meet attractive barely-legal teens in nearby colleges who need to meet men?
  • by selectspec (74651) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:30PM (#134238)
    Spam search engines, please take these two email addresses and imortalize them in your hallowed database of infamy --> gephardt@mail.house.gov [mailto] gephardt@mail.house.gov [mailto]
  • The Internet is a public forum, however, my inbox is not.

  • Why, oh why, must people too stupid to comprehend obvious sarcasm respond to my posts?
  • by supabeast! (84658) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:09PM (#134244)
    Well, if the democrats want to guard the spammer's right to cost me and my company money, I think I'll be calling my Republican senator, asking him to slap them around a little.

    Of course, in a week I will be threatening vote for a democrat if he doesn't stop advocating internet censorship bills...
  • Author says: But they should be required to pay "postage" for that right. I think spammers should pay a penny per k to both me and my ISP. A 5k spam would cost a dime. Still less then a stamp.

    A few major problems here...

    1. If they pay for email, you should have to pay for email you send anywhere as well and then we will be back to having a regulated postal service.

    2. E-mail is arguably free.. Its a system of networked servers designed to pass messages from one user to another.... they are using that.. why do you assume there is a level of personal privacy there? I can send an email to anyone! bob@yourmomsuck.com president@whitehouse.gov cmdrtaco@slashdot.org ... if we start charging people does this mean if i receive an email from someone i don't like I can now charge them for it?

    I guess where do draw the line? is spam that infuriating to you? Personally it doens't bother me.. I have a few different pop accounts i use, with one i give out to people so i can read messages from and one for mailing lists(usually one per mailing list) and one for signing up for dumb stuff online where it sounds like i'm gonna get spammed for it...

    What do you do about postal spam? Personally i can't stand that.. I get over 2 pounds a week of trash mail in my mailbox that some how now I AM RESPONSIBLE to recycle or throw away.. My name is Not Postal Customer, or Recipient... i've fought with my post office and left the junk mail in my mailbox.. that does nothing unfortunately.. those are the people who should be paying us for email... if you get some spam... thats reason #45628 the DELETE key was invented...

    I think theere are highly more pressing issues to worry about then some junk mail...

    Just my thoughts...perhaps losing some karma now :)

  • Just force everyone who mails you to encrypt the message to your obnoxiously long GPG key. If everyone did this, it'd take a lot more commitment to spam people.
  • It wouldn't be too hard to have the mail server reject unencrypted E-Mails. That's just string processing (Processing a string through gpg heh.) If you don't happen to run your own mail server, you can let procmail run interference for you. Barring that, you can have procmail keep a whitelist of people who are allowed to mail you. There are several schemes for automatically adding people to the whitelist by having them reply to an E-Mail.
  • There are numerous federal restrictions (FCC and FTC) on commercial 'cold calling' operations. It is acknowledged that commercial speech has less protection than other forms of speech.

    The Federal Trade Commision regulates interstate telemarketing. Unsolicited faxes, and calls to pagers and cellular phones, or any number that will mean a charge to the person being called are banned by the FTC [ftc.gov], and for intra-state calls by many state legislatures.

    The rules for faxes are very clearly opt-in:

    • Advertisements for any goods or services cannot be sent to your fax machine without your prior express permission or invitation.
    • Permission to send unsolicited faxes is presumed to exist if you have an established business relationship with whomever is sending the message.
    • You can end this relationship by telling the company that you do not want to receive any more faxes from them.
    nformation that must be placed either on the first page or on each page of a fax:

    • The date and time the transmission is sent;
    • The identity of the business, other entity, or individual sending the message; and
    • The telephone number of the sender or of the sending fax machine. The telephone number provided may not be a 900 number or any other number for which charges exceed local or long distance telephone charges.

  • You forgot 4) Don't put your real email address in your /. user profile. Those old postings are archived forever, and easily accessable by any web spider...
  • by 13013dobbs (113910) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:44PM (#134287) Homepage
    Whenever you get spammed by someone with an 800 number call... repetedly... give them some costs too...

    Make sure to call from a pay phone; it costs more. Plus, if you call from home, they will have your phone number (even if you try to block it). I knew some people who would carry a list of 800 numbers and would call them from pay phones at the metro or grocery.

  • by 13013dobbs (113910) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @01:15PM (#134288) Homepage
    Aww but all those emails you send that people want still cost the ISP money.. If we are charging spammers, why not charge everyone? When it comes down to it, its all still just bits...

    You seem to forget how the internet works. When i send my freind an email, he (in some small way) pays for it. But, it is traffic he wants. Plus, when he responds I pay a little bit. It evens out. Spammers abuse this.

    Dictionary attacks to suck... sure punish network abusers..or write a program to reconize an attack coming in tryin to email every possible user and deny those IP's...u can figure sumthing out.. if it becomes illegal.. you really think that will stop spammers??

    No, it won't stop them, but it does give me a legal recourse to stop it from happening again.

    I never said people would'nt complain(i don't bulk email personally) but what i'm saying is why draw the line at "bulk" as opposed to 1 or more pieces... you set bulk at 400 pieces and wham! spammers will send 399..... again legislation is not an answer...

    It is not a question of 'bulk', it is a question of permission.

    See above a few comments.. spend more time beforehand securing your networks.. personally I've had much greated problems at work than our mailserver having problems.

    So, it is *my* fault that spammers hose my servers? Thanks, pal.

    [...]mostly part of the international voip network i deal with going down at times.. much more important than some spam in my inbox which i can ignore, filter or delete. I prefer a much unregulated interent... the more its regulated, the more its turned into AOL or other MAJOR controled online services where everything is sterile and nothing is new....(granted AOL gets ton of spam funny enough)

    So, you don't deal with mail servers? You can't really comment on how big of a problem spam is to an ISP then, can you? You can say that your personal mail box does not have a problem, but you can't say that system/internet wide does not.

  • by 13013dobbs (113910) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:34PM (#134289) Homepage
    1. If they pay for email, you should have to pay for email you send anywhere as well and then we will be back to having a regulated postal service.

    Well, there is a difference in the mail that spammers send and that I send. I send emails to people I know and who *want* to recieve email from me. Spammers send to who ever is on thier list. While the one spam I get does not cost me much it does over time; it also costs the ISPs who have to recieve and store the large numbers of unwanted emails.

    2. E-mail is arguably free.. Its a system of networked servers designed to pass messages from one user to another.... they are using that.. why do you assume there is a level of personal privacy there?

    Actually they are abusing that. The email is definatly *not* free (from an ISPs stand-point). When a spammer tries to dictionary attack your mails erver or sends a 100k spam to all 10K+ of your customers, you quickly find that cleaning up after a spammer is not cheap.

    I can send an email to anyone! bob@yourmomsuck.com president@whitehouse.gov cmdrtaco@slashdot.org ..

    True, but if you are sending these people uncolicited bulk email, don't be shocked when they complain.

    if we start charging people does this mean if i receive an email from someone i don't like I can now charge them for it?

    If it is spam, yes.

    I guess where do draw the line? is spam that infuriating to you? Personally it doens't bother me.. I have a few different pop accounts i use, with one i give out to people so i can read messages from and one for mailing lists(usually one per mailing list) and one for signing up for dumb stuff online where it sounds like i'm gonna get spammed for it...

    Spam *is* that infuriating to an admin who has to come in to the shop at 4am to work on a mail server that has hung trying to process a boatload of spam.

    What do you do about postal spam? Personally i can't stand that.. I get over 2 pounds a week of trash mail in my mailbox that some how now I AM RESPONSIBLE to recycle or throw away.. My name is Not Postal Customer, or Recipient... i've fought with my post office and left the junk mail in my mailbox.. that does nothing unfortunately.. those are the people who should be paying us for email..

    I throw it away. It really does not cost me anything. the people sending it pay for it's delivery. It does not piss me off; that is because postal spam has yet to flood me to the point where I have to spend an hour destroying mail just to be able to open my PO box.

    if you get some spam... thats reason #45628 the DELETE key was invented...

    But, how does that solve the problem. Your box is just refilled the next day

    I think theere are highly more pressing issues to worry about then some junk mail...

    Well, I guess you have never worked on a high traffic mail server or had to deal with abuse issues. :)

    Just my thoughts...perhaps losing some karma now :)

    I hope you don't lose karma. Good luck.

  • by ebh (116526) <ebh-slashdot@hyp ... g ['l.o' in gap]> on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:12PM (#134292) Journal
    Your right to free speech does not obligate me to provide you a forum in which to exercise that right.
  • by Mustang Matt (133426) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:21PM (#134311)
    Advertising is slightly different than free speech.

    If I was getting spam about overthrowing the American Government, fine... That's free speech.

    But when I get spam advertising unsolicited crap products (low mortgages, cheap ink, infinite supply of viagra) that I just don't want it sucks.

    Here are some precidents (sp?) for ending unsolicited spam.

    1. Missouri now has a do-not-call list. It's enforced. If a telemarketer gets caught calling my house, they get in big trouble. It went into effect a week or so ago I believe and calls have ENDED! Honestly!

    2. When I get credit card(and other advertisement) offers in the mail. There are a few rights that I have...
    a. I know exactly where they came from.
    b. I can "usually" get off the mailing list.

    I'm not saying necessarily that it needs to be government regulated, but we need to design and bulid an email standard that will stop unwanted mail with tough to trace headers.

    Once this sort of mail server is in place it should also have the option of only accepting mail from other mail servers that follow these standards.
  • by Tassach (137772) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:31PM (#134319)
    Yes, everyone has a right to free speech. However, you do not have the right to spend someone else's money or use their resources without their permission. It is against the law for telemarketers to call you collect, or to send unsolicited faxes, or to send advertising postage due. If they want to spam me, that's fine - but if they are going to use my resources (bandwith, electricity, time, and hardware) I deserve to be reimbursed for my expenses.

    Congress is once again proving how out of touch with reality they really are I wonder how much money the DMA (Direct Marketer's Alliance) contributed to Senator Wyden and Congressman Gephardt?

  • by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:10PM (#134327) Homepage
    First ammendment rights are not absolute. You cannot force me to listen to your speech. You don't have the right to charge me to listen to your message. You don't have the right to use my equiptment to show me your message.

    Email is a push technology, not a pull technology. If someone posts it on Yahoo, or banner ads, you are making a request for it. If they stuff it in your in-box, then you have not requested it on your equiptment. This pop-up/under ads are questionable.

  • In CompuServe v Cyber Promotions the court stated quite clearly that the spammer's first amendment rights DO NOT trump the recipient's property rights. This was not a novel result, but was consistent with past rulings, including US Supreme Court rulings.

    There's really nothing more to this than that - The Senator is wrong. Plainly, unambiguously, and inexcusably wrong. The only thing newsworthy about this is the degree to which the Senator has embarrassed himself.

  • by AntiNorm (155641) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @01:36PM (#134340)
    This [junkbusters.com] page explains the situation quite nicely.

    Basically, a group of people involved in junk snailmailing claimed the same First Amendment right to spam. But in U.S. Supreme Court Appeal 397 U. S. 728, the Supreme Court ruled the exact opposite way. They said that "a man's home is his castle" and that if he doesn't want to receive junk mail, he has the right not to.

    Sure, this ruling applied to snail mail, but it is similar enough to email that it is very likely that the Supreme Court would rule the same way here.

    ---
    DOOR!!
  • by IronChef (164482) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @01:32PM (#134350) Homepage

    [WARNING: This post may be excessively cynical.]

    Really, what I am waiting for is ISP-approved spam. If the right to send spam is legally upheld, I think this is what awaits us in the future:

    - Major ISPs set up "commercial email facilitation services."

    - Spammer contacts the ISP. Spammer signs up for the service, and for $0.0X per email address the ISP guarantees delivery to the end user. How many users does home.com have? Or Earthlink?

    - ISP makes a bundle.

    - We all start getting 50 approved spams every day (the ISP would be smart enough not to redistribute pr0n spam)

    - ISP rewrites the TOS so you can't complain about it or opt out.

    - ISP monkeys with subject and sender headers to defeat mail filters.

    - ISP defends their actions by claiming that spam was costing them $X million a year and this is the only way they can recover costs.

    Obnoxious? Yes. But with the huge money to be made I think it's only a matter of time before things go this route. Non-spamming ISPs will become rare... only small ISPs will want to refuse the income, because their small user base won't make it worth backlash. But as more and more small ISPs get bought out or go under, there will be fewer and fewer places to run...
  • by taustin (171655) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:21PM (#134357) Homepage Journal
    ... in the history of Title 47, Section 227 [cornell.edu] of the US Code (the anti-fax spam law). The legal issues are nearly identical - the anti-fax law prohibited unsolicited faxes selling things because they shift the cost of unwelcome advertising to an unwilling recipient. The cast that tested this that I'm aware of is Destination Ventures, Ltd. v. FCC, 46 F.3d 54 (9th Cir. 1995), which addressed the constitutionality of 42 227 under the 1st Amendment. It noted, specifically, that under prevailing Supreme Court case law at the time (and it hasn't changed substantially), such restrictions must be very specific - in this case, unsolicited faxes advertising goods or services - and must be the only way of accomplishing the public good the law is intended to accomplish. In particular, it noted that unsolicited faxes not advertising commercial services, such as political messages, were protected by the 1st Amendment, even if they cost an unwilling recipient money. I believe the principal is that if you make a fax machine (or email server) readily available to the general public, there is some responsibility to accept whatever gets sent to it - except for some very specific exceptions..

    In any event, it seems likely the same legal thinking will apply to any anti-spam law. Since most email spam is, in fact, commercial ads, that would appear to be something that can be banned. Chain letters (that are not other wise illegal, like Ponzi scams), political messages, even ones asking for donations, and many other kinds of email are going to be protected, in the end. Or so it looks to me.

  • by Golias (176380) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @01:08PM (#134368)
    You have just raised the best argument against allowing spam to date: specifically, that you have property rights concerning the data storage device space which you are leasing from your ISP.

    An e-mail box is not a USPS mail box. It is a privately owned data file which is leased for the purpose of being able to exchange data with others. Your example of putting a billboard on somebody's lawn which faces their window is particularilly cogent.

    Opt-out is a whack-a-mole game, because when you tell an advertiser you don't want to hear from them, they can come back as another company in a week anyway. Most spammers are fly-by-night scams anyway.

    The First Amendment does not establish the right to send me e-mail.

  • by SubtleNuance (184325) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @01:20PM (#134389) Journal
    Its not congresspeople - its case law, specifically its:

    Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company [118 U.S. 394 (1886)], Read more here [iiipublishing.com]

    And please, for the sake of us all (literally) would you Yankees *PLEASE* do something about this... the rest of the world is watching your government get more and more corrupt and your corporations using your (wonderfull) bill-of-rights as tools of imperialism.
  • by wmulvihillDxR (212915) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:12PM (#134413) Homepage Journal
    And opt-out is a joke. I've opted out of countless things, but I still get a hundred+ spams a day.

    Actually, opting-out usually doesn't prevent SPAM. For the simple reason that if you send back an opt-out email, you are now a "verified email address" and I'm sure you will show up in the next edition of their "3 billion Verified Email Addresses!!!!" CD-ROM. Which you can buy for the low, low price of....
  • This is why I don't opt-out, I just ignore. Most of my spam isn't from anything remotely resembling a viable business.

    Screw postage, that doesn't keep the crap out of my two physical mailboxes. It's tresspassing, pure and simple and has nothing at all to do with "freedom of speech".

    If I were to walk across Taco's lawn to put an advertisement on his front porch, he could bar me with a simple No-Tresspassing or No-Solicitors sign. If I disregard it he can charge me with tresspassing.

    Since email is physical and takes up space somewhere, which I have paid for the use of, I should be able to post a simple No-Tresspassing or No-Solicitors sign, effectively, and they keep out. Only those I welcome into/onto my property should be allowed.

    --
    All your .sig are belong to us!

  • by Philbert Desenex (219355) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:17PM (#134428) Homepage

    Luckily, even illustrious personages like U.S. Senators can make wrong statements. Since email spam is advertising, it is not protected speech,and therefore not covered by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.

    In fact, the U.S. has recognized over the years that advertising must be controlled - thus we U.S. citizens are protected by "Truth in Advertising" laws.

    The real question is who bought off this particular U.S. senator? The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has its hooks into a lot of state representatives. For instance, here in Colorado, someone proposed a bill to make scumsucking telemarketers use a state "opt-out" list. Colorado citizens could register phone numbers in the opt-out list, and scumsucking telemarketers would be required to *not* call those phone numbers, under penalty of law.

    The president of the Colorado State Senate is an ex-DMA-lobbyist, so he used parliamentary procedure to table the bill - it essentially wouldn't even be voted on. A mass outpouring of outrage against evil telemarketers got it back on the table, and it passed.

    There can be no compromise on email spam - email spam is theft, and must be eliminated. Email spammers are theives and must be punished withing the limits of the law.


  • Opt-Out is like the Whack-a-Mole game, only far worse.

    When you opt out, you tell the sender that they have a responsive person. That makes you more valuable to them. They take your name off the one list to which you opted out, but they sell your name to at least 1,000 other lists to which you have not opted out.

    If you were to opt out of each of the 1000 lists, they would sell your name each time to 1000 others, so you would eventually be on 1,000,000 lists. These numbers are an estimate, but are not far wrong.

    Opt-out is an invitation to spending your whole life as an opt-outer.
  • by Compulawyer (318018) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:59PM (#134492)
    It is NOT an advertiser's legal right to contact you. Foremost among our rights is the right to be left alone.

    The problem with spam that most people (especially lawmakers) just don't get is that spam is VERY different from traditional snail-mail advertising. It ends up shifting the costs of advertising to those RECEIVING the advertising and to those in the chain of distribution (ISPs). These two aspects are significant. In fact, this cost-shifting was one of the primary rationales behind outlawing unsolicited commercial facsimile transmissions (remember fax machines?). This law is 47 USC sec. 227 - $500 fine per violation.

    So I ask you, why should advertisers be allowed to make the public pay for their advertising simply because it is possible to advertise electronically? Remember: The corollary to someone's 1st Amendment right to speak is someone else's right to not be subjected to the speech.

  • by number one duck (319827) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @01:06PM (#134494) Journal
    Eh, getting rid of spam is easy.

    1) Buy your own domain. People crapflood *@hotmail, *@aol, *@yahoo, etc etc just to find addresses by what doesn't bounce. Cracking dictionaries work wonders at guessing usernames.

    (I have *never* gotten spam on the domain I use for my personal email, after about a year and a half.)

    2) Don't use it for frivolous things. Big companies are usually smart enough not to spam you, you should be able to order from amazon or whatever without too much trouble.

    3) Let your friends know that if they sign you up for mailing lists you are going to beat them down with a sock full of nickels.

    How people expect spammers to not find their yahoo mail account is beyond me...

  • by ryanwright (450832) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @12:29PM (#134521)
    It is their legal right to contact you

    It is NOT their legal right to send me unsolicited links to pornography and a graphic description of exactly what I'll find via said link, which I get on a daily basis. They have no idea whether I'm an adult or not. What happens when my 4 year old daughter is 10, gets her own email address, and receives this crap? I'll tell you what happens: I'll put the SOBs in jail for solicitation of a minor - assuming I can track them down.

    I wonder if someone could get away with suing them for sexual harassment? Hell, it works everywhere else. Tell a female coworker she looks nice in a dress, or tell some dirty joke within earshot of the wrong person, and you could wind up in court. I'd say links to "young teen sluts waiting to suck you dry" constitutes sexual harassment, wouldn't you?

    As for other spam: Imagine if companies sent you advertisements via COD, only you're forced to pay. Mail man shows up at the door: "Here you go sir. 20 more ads. Charges are $5, we'll deduct it from your checking account whether you like it or not." Imagine if the palm reader at the 900 number was able to call YOU, and if you answer the phone, you're automatically charged $10. In reality, this is exactly what spammers do to you. You're paying (Internet access charges) for them to spam you. There are laws against this in the real world.
  • by JerkyBoy (455854) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @01:28PM (#134533) Homepage Journal
    The Help section at http://mail.yahoo.com provides the following information about what NOT to do with SPAM. I really would think twice about "opting out" after reading this:

    What should I not do with spam? Never respond to unsolicited email/spam. To the individuals who send spam, one "hit" among thousands of mailings is enough to justify the practice. Never respond to the spam email's instructions to reply with the word "remove." This is a ploy to get you to react to the email and alerts the sender that your email address is open and available to receive mail, which greatly increases its value. If you reply, your address may be placed on more lists, resulting in more spam. Never click on a URL or web site address listed within a spam. This could alert the site to the validity of your email address, potentially resulting in more spam. Never sign up with sites that promise to remove your name from spam lists. Although some of these sites may be legitimate, more often than not, they are address collectors. The legitimate sites are ignored (or exploited) by the spammers; the address collection sites are owned by them. In both cases, your address is recorded and valued more highly because you have just identified that your address is active.

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