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Spamming Gets Expensive in Utah and Ohio 307

Posted by michael
from the spiced-ham-still-pretty-cheap-though dept.
bradipo writes "A large number of lawsuits have been filed against companies that have not complied with the anti-spam statute in Utah. I'm not sure how this will turn out, but it should be interesting nonetheless." And reader spoton writes "The governor of Ohio has signed into law a bill that allows internet subscribers to sue for up to $50,000 and ISP's for up to $500,000. It allows you to sue for $100 per email + court and lawyer fees incurred. Looks like the cost of spamming is going up."
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Spamming Gets Expensive in Utah and Ohio

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  • for you to collect, the e-mail must have been sent FROM an Ohio company FROM an Ohio ISP TO an Ohio recipient. Obviously, no one is going to send spam from Utah/Ohio anymore. This serves to making their Spam-friendly ISPs uncompetitive, which ultimately only hurts the state.
    • Jurisdiction on internet is typically the user - recall mid 90's when a NY porn site was busted in TN for things that were legal in NY but illegal in TN. They should be able to extradict.
    • How sad! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fmaxwell (249001) on Friday August 02, 2002 @05:55PM (#4002177) Homepage Journal
      This serves to making their Spam-friendly ISPs uncompetitive, which ultimately only hurts the state.

      What a tragedy! Spam-friendly ISPs being forced out of business in Utah/Ohio. This is almost as bad as laws that make kiddie-porn-friendly ISPs uncompetitive. Imagine the revenue loss!

      When society finds something unacceptable (in this case, spam) and enacts laws to reduce it, there is an understanding that those who make a living from it will be financially harmed. Ohio convenience stores would have a competitive advantage if they could legally sell alcohol and tobacco products to minors. That doesn't mean that Ohio should make it legal.

      Sometimes the good of society outweighs the financial interests of corporations.

      • Sometimes the good of society outweighs the financial interests of corporations.

        It still doesn't make sense to go after the ISP, no more so than it does to sue telcos for the actions of telemarketters. Making the ISP responsible will have a chilling effect on Ohio's internet services, and that could only hurt the state's technology sector. Go after the spammers yes, the ISP no. Nice "save the children" hot-button press though.

        • It still doesn't make sense to go after the ISP, no more so than it does to sue telcos for the actions of telemarketters. Making the ISP responsible will have a chilling effect on Ohio's internet services, and that could only hurt the state's technology sector.

          Not knowing the specifics of the law, I can only comment on the concept generally. If an ISP is complicit, they should be held responsible. If they write "pink contracts" and don't shut off spammers when they receive complaints, they should be legally liable. Suppose you complained to the telephone company about harassing phone calls and they refused to do anything about it. Wouldn't you feel that they should have some legal liability?

          Nice "save the children" hot-button press though.

          I chose that example because keeping cigarettes and alcohol away from minors is something that society, as a whole, is behind -- even if it means that Kwik-E-Mart loses potential customers. I personally couldn't give a rat's ass about children. I don't have them, find them annoying, and wish that the parents would keep them at home. I frequently choose expensive restaurants so that I can enjoy my meal without being surrounded by the hordes of unleashed children that run screaming through the aisles of lesser establishments. Besides, stopping spam has little to do with protecting children.
    • by dananderson (1880) on Friday August 02, 2002 @07:07PM (#4002539) Homepage
      It's a false argument that ISPs need spam revenue. It's a big headache except for a few ISPs that may specialize in spammers. It causes their legitimate customers to be blocked in spam lists, overloads the ISPs pipes, and gets a lot of abuse complaints for the spam customer.

      If the Spam-needed-for-competition argument is true, then China and Korea would have the best hosting companies around.

  • It might catch on (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot@noSpam.spad.co.uk> on Friday August 02, 2002 @05:24PM (#4002023) Homepage
    Now if the rest of the world follows suit, we might have a reasonable chance of greatly reducing the amount of crap that gets shoved through our inboxes every day.
  • $50,000? That'd be one hell of a way to get me a new G4 /me puts up main e-mail address on Usenet
  • by burgburgburg (574866) <`splisken06' `at' `email.com'> on Friday August 02, 2002 @05:31PM (#4002058)
    Create a hotmail email address, sit back and wait. If that isn't fast enough for you, post a Usenet message. Better yet, sign up for AOL.
  • by rbanzai (596355) on Friday August 02, 2002 @05:34PM (#4002079)
    If laws like this are actually applied and not just presented to the media to polish the legislator's apple then it will kill spam. No matter how big the industry seems no one who makes a living at it could survive the fines. Just like mail and the telephone e-mail is there to be a convenience for the user, not the advertiser. Any abuse of this should be punished.
    • No. It will kill spam from legit businesses. The frauds and hucksters will still be at it.

      IF SPAM IS OUTLAWED, ONLY OUTLAWS WILL USE SPAM!

      (sorry - had to)
    • by crisco (4669) on Friday August 02, 2002 @08:05PM (#4002741) Homepage
      These laws put the onus of enforcement on us, the network user. Sure, at times a DA may pick a particularly egregious offender and make an example of them. But by and large, it will be up to us to act.

      I compare these to the current junk fax laws on record. They are part of the TCPA act passed in the early 90s that, among other things, made it against federal law to send unsolicited faxes. The penalty is $500. Yet the machine at work averages about 10 a week. Why haven't all of us retired with a bank of fax machines generating income from the junk faxers? Because it is up to us to file against the faxer and pursue them to collect. Some judges believe it is an abuse of the court system to try to collect on these. Others listen to the junk faxers and believe it is a free speech issue. Aside from that, the time and effort involved in tracking down the faxer aren't always worth the money.

      Tracking down a spammer for $20 or $100 will be the same. Sure, it will feel good to collect that money from someone. You might even be able to track a number of spams to one company and make it worth your while. But it will be a losing game of whack a mole. 3 more will pop up and the tide of trash in your inbox will not abate.

  • It is likely that the best solution to spammers skipping town would be to make ISPs legally liable for certain spam-related infractions -- primarily signing pink contracts with spammers or not taking steps to verify the identity of a customer.

    Which would make the business of being an ISP suck, but would probably eliminate the problem.
  • Bounty Hunters (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DickBreath (207180) on Friday August 02, 2002 @05:39PM (#4002099) Homepage
    You can sue for $100 per message + lawyer costs. What is unclear is whether you can sue for the cost to track down the spammer.

    If you could, then I predict a small industry would spring up of bounty hunters who would go to any lengths necessary to track down the origin of a spam message. Heck, they would even pay you (or other affected parties along the route) to put in necessary monitoring equipment/software, etc. in order to be able to track down the origin of a message without interferring with the operation of your mail server.

    So this law needs to be ammended to allow you to recover costs associated with tracking down the spammer. Bounty hunters would be knocking at your door to offer to help track down spammers. After all their fee becomes part of your cost to track down the spammer, and therefore part of the amount you could sue for.
    • You make it far more complicated than necessary.

      Simply sue the provider of the good or service offered in the spam (ie, whoever is paying the spammer to spam.) He'll probably be happy to tell you who he hired to send it.
  • by myov (177946) on Friday August 02, 2002 @05:44PM (#4002127)
    From: (Forged Address)
    Subject: GET RICH QUICK! READ THIS NOW!

    Make money in your spare time suing spammers! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity!

    For instructions, send $20 to...

  • by fermion (181285) on Friday August 02, 2002 @05:45PM (#4002135) Homepage Journal
    Many in congress, particularly those of a conservative bent, complain about the costly litigation against the saintly American companies, allegedly brought by greedy and evil consumers and lawyers. They want to pass legislation that will limit rewards and otherwise protect companies from the liabilities of their products. In fact, few consumers actually bring lawsuits against companies due to the inherent expense and risk of such litigation.

    The real reason to limit consumer is exactly these types of laws. Companies have been spamming consumers and ISPs to death. We have tried to establish voluntary laws to solve the problem. We have tried opt-in list and verified opt-in lists. We have begged web hosting companies to make sure commercial email sent from domains they host have real headers with valid email addresses, and clearly identify the source of the product and emailer. All has been to no avail.

    So we are at a point where the only recourse is litigation. Is this the fault of greedy consumers or lawyers? Or is the fault of an industry that does not have the integrity to define and enforce rules that insure consumers and agents are treated with respect.

    I am sure that conservatives have and are going to complain that this law and litigation are indicative of a decline in the basic moral fiber of the American consumer. At the same time, they will be raking in profits from the backs of those same consumers.

  • had a real address who the spammers used for the fake header. William.Gates@microsoft.com has a large legal department, but imagine your_mom's_emai@yahoo.com having to fend off all the angry folks who look at only the "sender's" email address as the person who did the spamming?
    • I've had that happen to me a couple of times now. Probably because I'm a pain-in-the-ass anti-spammer.
      No one has complained to either me nor my provider,though.
      The only reason I know of it, is that I got all the bounces. Fortunately, there's procmail for that.
      • Well, speak of the devil... I just got a shedload of bounces again. This time from "Easley Legal Marketing Group (ELM) Group, LLC" asking people to call (716) 812-2144
        I wouldn't mind, if any of you were to call them, and give them a piece of your mind :-) I'm not going to make a call overseas for that...
  • Not a good idea (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WCMI92 (592436)
    I DESPISE SPAM'ers, but I despise the thought of the government and trial lawyers getting their greasy mitts into the net even more.

    What irks me the most about some of the SPAM I get (over a hundred a day, so many that I've just started filtering whole domains, especially foreign ones) are the ones from LEGIT companies and sites, stuff I've signed up to get.

    Such as news headlines from All Access, etc (I run a radio news site, and like to keep up on news items to post). Well, they, among others, have started using the lowball techniques that VeriSign's SPAMM'ers (easily the MOST obnoxious non-porn or scam SPAM on the net), in randomizing their e-mail sender.

    The purpose of which is to defeat you inbox filtering (I use Agent) which I use to shunt mailing list e-mail, and news updates from All Access among others to their own folders so as to make the 200+ emails a DAY I get organized so that I MIGHT actually be able to make sense of them...

    All of which is done, of course, because for some reson, marketers think they MUST be in your Inbox or else, they don't want you filtering.

    In my case, getting into my Inbox makes you LESS likely to be read...

    Also, I've pretty much had to make up folders and filters for the domains of all the popular "free" e-mail services, such as Yahoo! and Hotmail, so much SPAM arrives from those addresses daily. Which makes it LESS liklely that anyone needing to send me something using one of those services to get my notice, as 99% of the stuff I receive from those two domains are SPAM.

    Anyone else resorted to this? I'm starting to get more and more SPAM from aol.com, as well, making me consider doing the same to them...
  • by _ph1ux_ (216706) on Friday August 02, 2002 @05:58PM (#4002198)
    only problem with this is that finding the source of the spam and actually holding them accountable will likely be a big problem.

    also - who is truely responsible for the *sending* of the email e.g: the guy who was on /. a while ago about making such a great living at being a spammer etc - he provides a service to people who want to send out shitloads of spam. Under this law - who is liable for the spam - the _sender_ or the _client_ of the service?

    so - if you go after spammers and you find that the email you are getting comes from someone like this said spammer guy, do you have the legal right to demand client info from him - and can you sue both him (sender) and his client for 100/email each (totalling 200/email)

    the other isue is the time it will take to try to track down these people when you have false headers etc.. and when they are in china or some such country where it would be hopeless to track them....

    • How do spammers make money if they are difficult to track down? If a spammer uses false email headers and routes his spam through China to hide his identity, how does he expect me to pay him? How do spammers hide from law, but not from "MAKING MONEY FAST"?
      • by Azog (20907) on Friday August 02, 2002 @07:44PM (#4002679) Homepage
        Companies that spam know that what they are doing is illegal in many places, of course. They typically attempt to firewall themselves by hiring "independent" people to *cough* "send their advertising only to those who have requested it". You know.... " If you are receiving this mail, it is because you signed up for it!"

        Then when those independent people spam every email address on the planet, if you go back to the company to complain, they would say (if you could pin them down), "oh dear, the independent advertising agent we hired must not have followed best practices, we asked them not to spam!"

        "No, we can't really help you track them down and sue them, we just have a post office box address and a cashed cheque..."

        "good luck... (giggle)"


        So then you think: The solution is to make it explicit in law that companies are responsible for the actions of anyone they hire to advertise for them.

        No, won't work. The company will claim to have never paid anyone to advertise (spam) for them. How will you prove it?

        All you have is the company name and phone number on a spam bounced off some anonymous relay in Korea, and the company claims they had nothing to do with it. They will claim that someone is trying to make them look bad by forging spam from them. It might even be true.

        My best idea is public execution of spammers, preferably by hanging. After the first few die on live TV, the others might become discouraged.

    • Well, from a legal perspective, you want to make BOTH crimes. Already anti-spam pressure has kept most legitimate businesses away from doing it.

      In essence, we want to make it as socially and legally difficult to admit to being in any way distributing or profiting from spam as, say being in any way distributing or profiting from stolen car parts.
    • Spam from china (or anywyere) still usually (IME) advertises a business with a phone number or web site in the US. Spam advertisements only work if there's a way for the recipient to contact the sender so they can do business, so there will almost always be a way to track down the business being advertised.

      Then the trick is to show that the business being advertised actually paid for the spamming, and than they weren't framed. You can expect them to deny it.

      • I just recieved a spam advertizing DISH Network, it channels people through redirect.virtumondo.com to www.vmcsatellite.com. I assume that the spammer would get a commission if I signed up through the URL in the spam.

        A well crafted law would induce virtumondo.com, VMC Satellite and DISH Network to cooperate in tracking down the spammer. The law should support suing and/or fining non-cooperating businesses.

        It's entirely possible that VMC Satellite and DISH Network were framed. If so, they should be happy to help track down the spammer(s).

        I live in Michigan, which doesn't have any anti=spam laws yet. It's election time. The state legislature is easy to contact now. What law should I suggest they pass for Michigan?

        • A well crafted law would induce virtumondo.com, VMC Satellite and DISH Network to cooperate in tracking down the spammer. The law should support suing and/or fining non-cooperating businesses.

          It's entirely possible that VMC Satellite and DISH Network were framed. If so, they should be happy to help track down the spammer(s).

          And how much cooperation would you expect from them? Would they be more liable to cooperate than, say, the tiny company I own? What if someone forged spam to look like I sent it. How much do I have to do to clear my name?

          Nope, sorry, that won't work at all. Under the Constitution (for us 'merkins), we are considered innocent until proven guilty. You can't force an innocent person to do any such thing as track down their impersonators.

          • Nope, sorry, that won't work at all. Under the Constitution (for us 'merkins), we are considered innocent until proven guilty. You can't force an innocent person to do any such thing as track down their impersonators.

            In the USA, you can be compelled to testify in a court of law, if the judge decides that your testimony is material to a case. Likewise, the judge can approve search warrants for your property and/or business records.

            The trick is crafting the laws such that innocent parties are not unduly burdened, while preventing companies from using commission based sales as a means to avoid anti-spam laws.

    • Under this law - who is liable for the spam - the _sender_ or the _client_ of the service?
      I don't really know the answer, but my guess would be both. My logic is the following:
      It is illegal to kill. Both the hit man and the person who paid him to kill are liable.

      I think a basis is that you cannot shield yourself from the law by having someone else break the law in your stead.

      Just my 2 Eurocents.

  • by cornice (9801) on Friday August 02, 2002 @06:09PM (#4002262)
    I live in Utah. Yea, yea, I know. Anyway, a few months ago one of the users on my network stopped me in the hall to say he had just sent an e-mail in reply to a spam requesting that he be removed from the spammer's list. I got all upset and explained (again) that all that does is confirm to the spammer that he has a live address. Then he explained that he had told the spammer that he would sue him under some bogus Utah law. He made up the number and title, etc. I was only mildly amused until the next day when he received a personal reply from the spammer. He apologized and said he would not use the address anymore. I was amazed. I don't expect this to ever work again but at least now we have the law behind us. Oh yea, I also find it typical that the Utah law has as much to do with stopping sexually explicit mail as it does with stopping spam in general. I guess that this is where the political support comes from. Don't you wish your state had it's own Porn Csar [usatoday.com]?
  • About the only recourse left in this society is to write your government officials. Ask them to help pass a law like this in your state. It's been mentioned that this will only stop spammers from those states - ok, well the more states that pass this law, the better for us.
    Vote-Smart.Org [vote-smart.org]
    will help you to look up the Postal and Email addresses of everyone you need to write to.
  • by Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) on Friday August 02, 2002 @06:17PM (#4002303) Homepage

    On the subject of spam and legalities, I've lately gotten a couple of those "blackmail" spams, you know the ones politely worded "we request your permission to contact you" in the subject, but with instructions that essentially boil down to "If you don't want us and our affiliates to spam you senseless, reply to us so we can confirm your email address and sell it to another spammer".

    Is this even legal? Basically, they are asserting that if I don't actively decline their "offer", (and open myself up to be spammed by anyone they sell my "confirmed" address to), they claim I am "consenting" to be spammed by them and all of their affiliates.....

    If I refuse to contact them and they spam me anyway, will that constitute harassment of some sort?

    Ironically, BOTH of the last two spamming companies (both of them seem to be set up specifically to spam on behalf of others) that have done this claim on their websites that they only use "triple opt-in" addresses, which is obviously a falsehood considering they wouldn't be contacting me at all if they weren't harvesting my email address from some other not-opted-into spam list or a website or something...and only the twisted mind of a spammer thinks "refusing contact" is the same as "Oh, please, spam me!"...

  • by inherent (543859) on Friday August 02, 2002 @06:24PM (#4002336) Homepage
    ...and I'll say it again....

    Spam works simply because the marginal cost of 1 additional email is so low that the marginal gain of 1 additional email sent will ALWAYS be greater (which means that some kind of nation-wide policy like this stands a chance at fixing the situation by raising the marginal cost of email).

    For example....

    Suppose I do television advertising. As I buy more and more advertising, I come closer and closer to saturating my potential market with exposure to my advertisement. Say I'm buying advertisements during sitcoms. For each add I buy, I reach fewer people who have yet to be exposed to my advertisement than the last ad that I ran. Thus the marginal value of each ad I purchase goes down, while the cost remains equal (all other factors equal).

    That means that eventually I will reach a point where the marginal cost of the ad is greater than the marginal value. At that point, I'll start losing money on the campaign, and quit running the ad.

    Now, let's look at spam....

    Each exposure still costs some finite amount of money. The difference is that the cost is TINY compared with television advertising. Suppose I spend $1,000 on a co-located server and the associated bandwidth (a totally arbitrary number). That server can probably send literally millions (if not billions) of emails in the month that my $1,000 paid for. It's obvious that the marginal cost of the spam campaign is TINY compared to the marginal cost of the television ad campaign.

    That means that the spam campaign takes MUCH MUCH longer. Indeed, as the marginal cost of the spamming approaches zero (which it gets very close to), the number of mails it takes to reach the point where marginal cost = marginal value approaches infiniti (which means you won't ever stop sending mail).

    It's simple economics. The only way to lessen spam (from a purely free-market standpoint) would be to increase the marginal cost of the email (or decrease the marginal value, but that's not going to happen, because there's always an idiot out there that can be scammed into sending you a $5 check). Increasing the marginal cost of the email could be done in lots of ways - but they mostly all involve giving up some of the freedoms which we're probably not willing to give up in exchange for freedom from some spam.
  • by jimjamjoh (207342) on Friday August 02, 2002 @06:36PM (#4002396)
    The irony is that even companies ostensibly engaged in assisting end-users in the fight against spam are perpetuating the problem. Just yesterday, I was spammmed by McAfee with an advertisment for thier new "SpamKiller" product.

    These guys are worse than insurance salesmen...

  • I understand the annoyance of spam, I've had the same email address for 10 years and I get several hundred pieces a day. What I simply don't understand is the fact that junk mail is still legal. Yes, I'm aware that spam can theoretically waste time at work, and it takes up electrical enery to send, but real life junk mail wastes tons and tons of paper, gas from delivering it, more time spent by the mail man, etc.

    When are we going to see law suits against junk mail? I'd love that.
  • When spamming is outlawed in your state, then only people outside your state will be able to spam.

    Outlaw everything you don't like and soon no one will be able to do anything. I would much rather seek technological methods of spam filtering (e-mail, faxes and phone calls) than see any more rights revoked.

    The quickest way to an authoritarian state is to pass laws that make everyone an outlaw, and selectively enforce those laws.

    ----
    A nation may lose its liberties in a day and not miss them for a century.
    --Baron de La Brede et de Montesquieu
    • When SPAM is outlawed....

      I just want to point out that the Hormel people have been incredibly cool about the use of the word "spam" to describe junk email. They could have been right bastards about it, but instead all they ask is that the public use "spam" to talk about junk email and reserve "SPAM" (all caps) to talk about their food product thing.

      So let's avoid calling it SPAM, if for no other reason to just show the Hormel people the respect they deserve.

      I also want you to know that this comment may have sounded sarcastic, but it really, really wasn't. Amazingly.
      • You're incorrect. They were bastards about it to begin with.

        Even if that was not so, they did not just ask that Spam be refered to in all caps. In fact, they suggested as follows:
        Follow SPAM with "Luncheon Meat" or other descriptor.

        -- http://www.spam.com/hp/hp_lg.htm
        So, you might have had a point if I said "When SPAM Luncheon Meat is Outlawed...".

        Given the context, I don't believe confusion between the two is a problem.

        Also, the term, although trademarked, can really be considered public domain at this point.

        So, I really don't care:

        Don't come over here
        And piss on my gate
        Save it just keep it
        Off my wave

        --Soundgarden, 'My Wave'
        • You should have kept reading [spam.com].
          We do not object to use of this slang term to describe UCE [unsolicited commercial email], although we do object to the use of our product image in association with that term. Also, if the term is to be used, it should be used in all lower-case letters to distinguish it from our trademark SPAM, which should be used with all uppercase letters.
          It's not about confusion. It's about respecting the wishes of a third party that has every right to get pissed off over this use of the word "spam."

          Naturally, if you want to announce that you "really don't care," nobody can stop you. Of course, that would make you an asshole, so that course of action comes with its own set of problems.
          • It's about respecting the wishes of a third party that has every right to get pissed off over this use of the word "spam."
            I'm sure movie makers don't want negative reviews of their movies. I'm sure Microsoft hates the spelling of their TM with a $ in place of the S.

            But hey, you've got a good tactic. If it's something you don't like, call it a bad name.
            although we do object to the use of our product image in association with that term.
            So, go after the /. admins for using a picture of a can of Spam in spam articles. They're certainly much bigger fish than I am.
  • by sean23007 (143364) on Friday August 02, 2002 @08:04PM (#4002736) Homepage Journal
    I just took the liberty of reading my state's (MN) laws regarding spam and unsolicited commercial email. Apparently, if the email has forged the domain name or contains misleading information in the subject line, I, as the recipient, am eligible for $25 per message, or $35000 per day, whichever is less. In addition to this, if I never consented to receiving such email (which I assume would be nearly impossible for me to prove, considering the fact that all they have to demonstrate is that they have my email address) and the subject line is not started off with the three characters "ADV" then I am eligible to receive $10 per message or $25000 per day, whichever is less.

    My question is as follows: if the message originated in my own home state, Minnesota, I am sure I could bring legal action against the perpetrator. If, on the other hand, the message originated in another state, perhaps North Dakota, where there are no laws prohibiting spam, or even another country, perhaps Canada, would I have precedent to bring action against them? They cannot make a case that they do not know what state I am in, considering the fact that my email address is in the .mn.us domain. Does email fall under some kind of interstate trade agreement? If so, wouldn't it be subject only to federal law if it passes state boundaries?

    I know these are a lot of questions, but I am surprised and delighted to learn that in my home state I can bring action (and get reimbursed) for each and every unwanted spam email message that I get, and I want to be armed with as much knowledge as possible. Thanks for your time if you have anything to add to this conversation.
  • Not much uptake on my anti-spam plan [blogspot.com], so here's another:

    Combine Vipul's Razor [sourceforge.net] with lawsuits against spammers [wired.com]

    When you get spam, you forward it to a special email address, which aggregates it and keeps your address. When there are enough copies to justify a case, the lawyers track down the spammer and file a class action, using whichever spam laws apply. They disperse the damages back via PayPal, keeping a percentage themselves.

    republished from my weblog [blogspot.com]
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday August 03, 2002 @01:31AM (#4003624) Homepage
    Ferguson vs. Friendfinder, the key California spam case, still hasn't been decided. That went all the way to the California Supreme Court. It's now been established that the law is constitutional, and the case is down at the trial court level again. A final result is expected this year.

    California anti-spam cases are mostly stuck waiting for this case to be finally decided. But I think that once there's a win in this case, the floodgates will open. Not many spammers are in Utah, but there are lots of them in California.

    The next big issue that has to be litigated is whether you can sue the beneficiary of the spam, not just the spammer. It's probably not a valid defense that the beneficiary hired a third party to spam for them. It can probably be argued that the actual spammer was acting as their agent. It gets complicated, with discovery needed to force disclosure of the transaction between the spammer and the beneficiary of spam. But that's how to go after the deep pockets, big companies that use others to spam for them.

  • The problem I can see with all these anti-spam measures is that the spammer usually conceals his identity. No biggie, you say... you just sue the ISP... well, which one? As I said, they conceal their identities -- usually pretty damn well. Or at least they conceal themselves well enough that you can't trace them any further than to some country that doesn't give two sh**s what the people in North America want.

    So, we are left back at square one... The opt-in mails are bullshit, if you try to unsubscribe, you only end up on yet more lists, having confirmed that the email address is valid. Further, I've seen exploits even without even requiring javascript to be enabled by the emails using cgi http requests for the embedded pictures, which can do all sorts of things, like send a confirmation to a server that your email was valid - and that you read the email. I only stumbled across this by accident about a year ago when I was using a straight text email program to read some incoming mail and saw the content of the SRC= parameter on an IMG tag. I do not know for sure that it is used for this purpose, but I can see how it certainly _could_ be.

    Without it ever being possible to hunt these spammers down no matter what mechanisms they might try to use to ensure their anonymity (which would, even if such mechanisms _did_ exist, cause serious problems for honest people who may simply want some privacy), we are, I am afraid, stuck with spam.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov

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