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Anti Spam Bills Continue 251

Brian D. writes "Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M.'s has a great bill -- $500 penalty for each piece of spam a company sends. It passed overwhelming in the House last year, but this year businesses are being persuaded to "take off the gloves" to kill it." It makes interesting points, for example differentiating between spam, and spam with bogus headers (for which I think a $500 is to light. Punishment should be sweet and simple: launch spammers into the sun).
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Anti Spam Bills Continue

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ok... this will of course get immediately modded to flamebait, because the moderators are all crackheads... but... I have to say this anyway.

    Now.. I hate spam just as much as the next guy and all, but I don't see the difference between spam, and regular snail mail junk mail. What is the difference? None of you are hammering your representatives to pass a law making it illegal to send unsolicited advertisements thru the US Postal system? What is the difference? Tell me. Don't start to bitch about how spam clogs up your mail servers, blah blah blah, because we all know thats not the case. You can say that all you want, but give me a break... whats the percentage of mail traffic going thru your server that is spam? 10-20% at the max? Big fucking deal you whining babies. Ehhh... I don't know why I'm wasting my time... This is going to get modded down so fast most people will never read it anyway. Fucking crackhead moderators.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You use a $500 bill to light things on fire? That's a little expensive.
    In fact, the provocative french singer - composer Serge Gainsbourg did this once on TV with FRF 500 as a protest on taxes. When criticized for burning money on another TV show, he signed a FRF 500000 cheque for a charity organization.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:48AM (#230009)
    I admit it. I worked for a company that spammed people often. They got alot of business from it thus they continued to do it.

    Don't worry, if you only worked for the company, we'll only send you to the moon, not all the way to the sun.

    If you are paying per e-mail you receive, paying for extra bandwidth from spam etc. Go get yourself a new ISP

    And you call us ignorant. Who do you think pays for all the bandwidth that spammers use on the Internet backbone? ISPs. Who do you think pays for those ISPs? Us ISP users.

    It doesn't matter whether ISPs bill us directly for the amount of bandwidth used, because we end up paying for it when they have to charge us extra to upgrade their connections just so we can receive all the damn spam that assholes like your ex-employer send out.

    Personally I disagree with anti-spam laws, because there are better technical solutions; but people who don't understand how spam costs us money are far more ignorant than those who call for laws to protect them.

  • by Frater 219 ( 1455 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:20AM (#230010) Journal
    It's been said many times before, but here goes ...

    When your telemarketer calls me, you pay the long-distance fees.

    When you send me bulk postal mail, you pay for the printing and the postage. (Indeed, bulk postal mail ends up subsidizing non-bulk mail, since it comes pre-sorted and thus costs the Postal Service much less.)

    When you send a messenger around town who hangs a leaflet on my doorknob, you pay for the printing and the messenger.

    When you send me spam email, I pay. I pay in ISP fees, which go to defray the costs of bandwidth consumed and disk space taken up. When you spam my work account, my employer pays. When you spam a public university or government account, the taxpayer pays.

    You have every right to put your message out to the world at your own expense. You have no right to put it out at my expense, my employer's expense, or the taxpayer's expense. Spam is theft -- or, more accurately, spam is piecewise mailbombing; and mailbombing is a computer crime.

  • I believe this displays a key defficiency in our government system. The people don't want the spam, business wants us to recieve the spam. Strangely they decide to side with business, so much for democracy.

    The issue with spam faxes is much the same except that businesses didn't want to pay for that particular spam. Therefore a law got passed preventing it.

    dagone it! When will these people get a clue.

  • This sounds remarkably similar to the Washington state junk e-mail law []. Which is a pity, since that law's constitutionality has been challenged, and as far as I know, it has not yet emerged from that challenge.
  • I know this is a troll, but anyway...

    Junk mail advertisers pay for postage. They're not a drain on shared resources -- they pay their own way.

    Spammers use my own resources to deliver their message, and that costs me money both directly (I have to transfer and store it, you know) and indirectly (so does my ISP, and I get stuck with the infrastructure improvement bill).

  • I dunno, if I did my math right, $50K of gold is only 15.5 pounds... It might seem a bit heavy, but then they might just have an old laptop. :)

  • Don't you mean south of Canada? Last time I checked, most of Canada was at a higher latitude than Detroit. :)
  • Actually, the fact that there was no "User Unknown" error returned by your mail server is enough proof to the spammer that they sent the spam to a valid email address...

    A spammer has put my Email address in the envelope-from. I get all his "user-unknown" bounces.

    Does anybody have any hints on how to report this guy for forgery? We have about 3 weeks until we stop being able to catch him red-handed.

  • So what I'd like to see would be like this: One unsolicited e-mail allowed from a business to one address.

    The problem with this is that there are soooo very many "wannabe rich quick people". Or "small businesses". Whatever you want to call them.

    And the hardcore spammers are the ones who will set up a new business to do a new run of that old database anyway.

    So if you allow one spam per "from address", that would mean that there still is a very LARGE pool of people who can legitimately SPAM me.

    The problem with spam is that it costs so little. Making a flyer and getting it distributed costs real money.

    There would be no spam problem if sending a spam would cost 5 cents or so. If spamming were made legal, and the ISPs would be able to collect in bulk on those 5 cents, I wouldn't mind getting the occasional spam.

    It would keep my internet costs down.

  • How is online spam any different from junk mail, then? In both cases, the spammer is paying to send the stuff. If you look closely at the situation, you'd see that the hidden costs of junk mail are really the same as the costs you perceive with online spam. Perhaps you should convince ISPs to charge spammers more. I bet most do. If they're sending bulk email, have them pay bulk email prices.


  • ...but they just keep bouncing off the case of my Enterprise 4500 server. It's turning into quite a mess in there.
  • Of course, to win a case against a spammer who's sent you an email, you're going to have to prove he did it.

    That's going to use up a hell of a lot of your time and resources.

    Plus, in order to prove you didn't fake the whole thing, the court is going to need expert testimony as to the state of your system, to prove you didn't fake it.

    It'll be too expensive to bring in an auditor every time, so of course your system will have to be monitored by "uncrackable" government-approved software.

    Or, the law will be unenforceable, and just be yet another of the many thousands of laws on our books that nobody pays any attention to, and that contribute to the general decline in respect for the law in this country.

    My procmail filter stops a hell of a lot more spam than the last anti-spam bill managed; all it did was add an extra few lines onto the end of each spam. Hitting the delete key wastes less of my time and resources than going into our already-overcrowded court system.

    The most effective methods of fighting spam don't involve inviting Big Brother into closer scrutiny of your private life. Get over spam; if it's not effective advertising, it'll go away on it's own.
  • Could be bad when the Earth gets into litigation with the sun for sending unsolicited spammers...

    That's OK, it's a one-time mailing, there is no need to request removal, and they were clearly marked as such in compliance with etc...
  • I'd start forwarding my spam to the honorable congressmen who support it, but Barr []'s Web site doesn't have an email address I can find (perhaps because of spam? ), and the link on Goodlatte []'s page to "e-mail Bob" goes to a lookup page for representatives' mailing addresses. Morons. (And what's with the cookies on the House Web site?)

    I suppose the Securities Industry Association [] ("We are engaged and active in trying to slow this train down") will have to do.
  • If you are paying per e-mail you receive, paying for extra bandwidth from spam etc. Go get yourself a new ISP.

    Won't help. No matter what ISP you use, they have operating costs. Spam increases those costs. Either the ISP can absorb that cost instead of making a profit, or that cost will be included in the price that their customers pay, regardless of whether or not that amount is explicitly shown.

    BTW, though, I agree that I don't want government involved in this, except to protect people from fraud. But some types of forged headers, done to avoid accountability, are a form of fraud. And that is especially true when it's done not just to avoid blame, but to shift that blame to an innocent party.

  • If you did that, you deserve what you get. I think for people to which $10k is a lot, that they'd be careful enough. Its an awful lot of bills to make $10k with $100 bills.

    The government isn't that concerned about single $10k bills floating around, but the briefcases full of them going through airports, etc. The government is paranoid about money laundering and they think that making cash more of a pain to handle they will slow that down.

  • by sharkey ( 16670 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @11:46AM (#230035)
    Fill in the blank:

    "A $500 is to light as a _______."
    A. CmdrTaco is to "ispell."
    B. Dirty green paper is to luminescense.
    C. CowboyNeal is to a social life.
    D. Jesse Berst is to a competent technical reporter.
    E. All of the above.

  • by rw2 ( 17419 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:05AM (#230036) Homepage
    memepool at this [] link the other day. Brilliant idea actually. Goto charges per hit, the spam software makers are paying top dollar for hits. So hit em! Right where it hurts.

    Poliglut []

  • Ah, but most of them make the ISPs do the work for them. They may have fat pipes, but they are not used for much of the spamming. They hijack mail servers, pile on the addresses, and make THEM do the hard work of delivering each address. I have not received any spam in recent memory that came directly from the spammer's machine. They all came from hijacked mail servers. When porn sites do use their heavy duty bandwidth to deliver porn, it is to serve a revenue-generating audience that pays for it. The problem is when they force ISPs to pay for their advertising.
  • There are ,however, limits to free speech. One cannot yell out FIRE! in a crowded theater. And this isn't really a free speech issue anyway. It's akin to making unsolicited sales calls to a business' 800/877/888 (toll-free) number. The business recieving the call has to pay per call on the toll-free number.

    In the case of spam, the admins and companies have to pay for resources in the form of servers, disk space and bandwidth.

    What the REAL focus of the bill needs to be is that point. And they need to be fairly specific in regards to what is defined as spam. I think the comment Taco made about forged headers should probably be the key as it shows a conscious attempt to disguise the source of transmission.

    Under a very specific set of rules defining spam, I would be all for a law like this. If it were too broad, I could be sued for sending an email to all my users letting them know about server changes. Technically, that would be unsolicited.

  • by Darth Maul ( 19860 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:06AM (#230040) Homepage
    What I really hate about spam is the fact that they provide this statement at the end going on and on about how this mail conforms to bill such and such, and if you want removed, just send an e-mail to

    So I send an e-mail, and of course a minute later get it bounced back because it's an unknown address.

    How do you fight that besides sorting through headers and writing to or whatever? Even if they pass some $500 fine per piece of spam, how can you enforce it?
  • The point is, these laws are NOT about content-based filtering. Spam is simply about whether the sender had permission to send his shit or not. Would-be (would-have-been?) anti-spam laws are about the same thing: Did the sender have MY prior permission to use MY resources?

    Why should he need your permission? The only concept of "private property" on the Internet is through implementing security measures. If you want only those who have your permission to e-mail you, then you can configure your SMTP server or mail client to do that. Problem solved, and I guarantee it'll be much more effective than anything a government can do.
  • by nd ( 20186 ) <nacase AT gmail DOT com> on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:29AM (#230046) Homepage
    Nearly everyone here seems to have defaulted to the view that anti-spam laws are a great thing. Why is this? What if it were a law related to content filtering? What if it were something like the DMCA?

    Face it, government intervention and legislation on the internet is bad. Very bad. You can't have it both ways. If you allow the government to say what's okay and what's not okay to e-mail, then you give up freedom. Just because spam is annoying and everybody hates it doesn't change this. We need to handle these matters our own ways, and many are already doing that (spam filters, organizations that provide black list services, etc.).

    Don't fall into the trap thinking that the government is the solution. I'm sure most of you can imagine what a nightmare enforcing something like this is anyway (forged spam to get someone else fined, whatever).
  • No way, I want to warm my bones in a bath of neutrinos riven from the atoms of Spamford's body.

    Either that, or give them all toothbrushes and chisels and have them remove Chernobyl.

  • How about getting your mail software to forward a copy of every piece of spam you get to your Congressmen and Senators? After all, if they are that interested in making sure that people can spam us whenever they like, they must like getting spammed too. So how about we share with them what we have to see everytime we check our e-mail?
    Just my $0.02.
  • "a $500 is to light"

    You use a $500 bill to light things on fire? That's a little expensive.

  • If you want to banish them to some place of no return, send them to Detroit.
    You misspelled Toronto.
  • ...but the bandwidth issue is a red herring. If you want to put a dent in bandwidth usage, shut down the porn newsgroups on USENET. When you ask ISPs where their bandwidth goes, it is not email (spam). Spam is a nuisance, but not a bandwidth killer. The mail server may choke, but that's not a network bandwidth issue; it is a server upgrade issue. The bandwidth is getting sucked up by*, alt.binaries.movies.*, and live nude streaming web sites.

    I used to be in the "legislate spam" camp until a very important point was brought up. What happens if the spam comes from Taiwan? U.S. spam laws will mean precisely dick! What if someone jumps over the border to Canada or Mexico to send spam? U.S. spam laws will mean precisely dick!

    Any spam legislation will only affect U.S. entities physically located in the U.S. sending to U.S. recipients. If any of those prerequisites is missing, any U.S. legislation means precisely dick!

    The only way to stop spam is to stop the source, close all open gateways, close access to all open gateways, or (most effective, but most difficult) get Americans to stop patronizing businesses that spam.
  • How can a $500 fine be assessed against an off shore entity? Honestly abot 90% of my or more is open relay spam. Most of it comes from somewhere in Korea, China, or Taiwan (no offense guys). What's to stop these mass mailers from going overseas for their bulk mailing?


  • If spammers are trying to make money, there has to be some point of contact for them to pick it up. If the law clearly recognizes spam as theft of services, they can be caught at that point.

    People who are merely trying to spread some message could use some haven (more likely, given the usual annoyed/receptive ratio of spam, the smart ones would send their opponent's message to irritate people in the other direction).

  • The difference between spam and regular junk mail is the cost, and who pays it. Spam costs the sender a very small fraction of a penny to send, but the receiver pays with his time. . Junk mail costs several pennies to send. Believe me, if some of the people here got the volume of junk mail that they get of spam, their postmen would go on strike. Rough, back of the envelope calculations follow.

    Cost, at 46 cents/minute (what my employer thinks I'm worth) it costs me roughly 3 cents to deal with each spam. The sender paid, what, about 1/1000 cents to send it. So, it costs me more to deal with it than they paid to send it. Same amount of time to deal with junk mail, but cost the sender 34 cents to send it. So they pay more to send it than I pay to deal with it.

    Or, you can look at it this way:

    100 mails/day*14g/mail=1400g/day. Three pounds for those non-metric people out there. That, and the cost, makes junk mail very self limiting. There is not a similar limitation on spam.

  • by droleary ( 47999 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @09:09AM (#230068) Homepage
    It is quite likely illegal to demon dial them, so I would not suggest it. What I have my computer do instead is filter spam and, for messages containing toll free numbers, call them and play the Spam skit. One message inviting me to call equals one call from my computer. That seems fair to me. One spammer apparently spammed me enough to get sufficient calls to actually call me back and (he claimed) start doing a phone harassment investigation on me. I called him back and told him to go for it! If I only call (once) when I'm invited to call, I don't see a problem with it. If it comes to a legal battle, I'm quite willing to nail this jerk and set a precedence for email harassment.
  • The biggest difference has already been pointed out to you: who bears the cost. But there's a second important difference: the legitimacy of the product being offered. Most spam offerings are at best seedy and at worst illegal: pr0n, get-rich-quick scams, gambling, drugs, snake-oil, warez, etc. I don't get much physical mail trying to sell these sorts of things, and I don't get much spam trying to sell me a pizza or a new brand of laundry detergent.
  • I'd settle for recieving a cubic centimeter of flesh for each spam message sent. This way, spammers can send me as many trash emails as they wish, but the costs are a bit more personal.

  • The only concept of "private property" on the Internet is through implementing security measures. If you want only those who have your permission to e-mail you, then you can configure your SMTP server or mail client to do that. Problem solved, and I guarantee it'll be much more effective than anything a government can do.

    Gosh! This is brilliant. We should extend this to the real world!

    Does your neighbor let his dog poop on you lawn? Don't ask him to stop; just build a really high wall around your grass! Somebody peeking in your windows while you undress? Brick 'em up! Is it hard to breath because your neighbor is burning hundreds of tires each day? Well it's your fault for letting outside air into your house. Just configure your house to let only oxygen and nitrogen in. Problem solved, and I guarantee it'll be much more effective than anything a government can do.
  • the bandwidth issue is a red herring. If you want to put a dent in bandwidth usage, shut down the porn newsgroups on USENET.

    Gosh, if the goal is to reduce bandwidth usage, the simple way is to just turn off all the routers.

    Of course, that's not the goal. The goal is for us to stop having to pay for a lot of bandwidth and hassle that does not benefit us. If you don't want alt.binaries.* coming down the pipe to your news server, you can change a configuration file and you're good to go. But if you don't want spam coming to your mail server, that's not the case. Indeed, despite the large amount of effort put into fighting spam, a lot still gets through.

    Any spam legislation will only affect U.S. entities physically located in the U.S. sending to U.S. recipients. If any of those prerequisites is missing, any U.S. legislation means precisely dick!

    Ah, you would be a lawyer, then?

    I'm not either, but my understanding is that this would affect any company with US assets. It's certainly the case that non-US citizens can sue in the US for things that happened outside the US. Note, for example, the suit by Holocaust survivors in US Federal Court against many Germany-based companies.

    The only way to stop spam is to stop the source, close all open gateways, close access to all open gateways, or (most effective, but most difficult) get Americans to stop patronizing businesses that spam.

    Yes, that's the only way to stop spam. But pending the day that all american consumers make all purchases with wisdom and foresight, perhaps we can pass some legislation that will reduce spam.
  • Do you honestly think I haven't heard this argument before, or thought of the analogous real-world situation? Obviously I've already considered this.

    It may be obvious to you, but it sure isn't obvious from your post.

    Perhaps you should have read the first sentence there more carefully. I'll repeat it again: The only concept of "private property" on the Internet is through implementing security measures.

    Thanks for your assistance, but I think I read it pretty well the first time. You're making a raw assertion, not obviously based in fact or law.
    Your basic theory seems to be the the internet is so entirely different from the real world that traditional notions of property are completely inapplicable. This may have merit with things like the copying of intellectual property. But it's complete bunk in relation to spam.

    As far as I can tell, traditional notions of private property map pretty well to servers. E.g., ownership, trespass, theft, vandalism, and dumping are all obvious problems both in the real world and on line. So the theory seems swell. In practice, there are two big problems, both of them temporary.

    The first is one of ignorance: the internet is a new thing; people take time to adjust, and the details of the law take even longer to catch up. But catch up they will; western countries have had laws against computer trespass for a while, and other countries are catching up. And western countries are now, a decade after the Green Card incident, now waking up to the need for spam laws.

    The second temporary problem is one of immature technology: the basic structure of the internet does very little to make people accountable for their actions. Thanks in part to the aggressiveness of spammers in seeking out and exploiting every bit of trust in the original protocols, accountability is rapidly increasing.

    So as far as I can tell, the concept of "private property" on the internet is the same as the old, boring real-world one.
  • The Holocaust trials held after WWII were extraordinary circumstances. Germany had just lost a war and had no respectable legal infrastructure. This is by no means the norm.

    Interesting theory, especially given that they were filing US lawsuits against German companies for Nazi slave labor compensation as recently as 1998 []. I guess those Germans must still be rebuilding their legal infrastructure, eh?


    Alas, the rest of your analogies are equally flawed.
    • The difference between a web page and spam is that I ask for one and am tricked into taking the other.
    • The difference between porn and spam is that porn is a type of content that can come through any delivery medium; spam, whether the content is bible verses or hot teens, is a method of abusing a delivery medium.
    • The difference between changing the channel and installing spam filters is the difference between moving to a quieter area of a public park and installing bars on my windows to keep people from climbing in.
    • And so on, ad nauseam.
    With all of the issues involved with the Net, while spam may be one of the most annoying, it is not something that infringes greatly on our lives.

    So you're saying it's not a big enough problem yet? How long would you like to wait? Ten years ago, I recevied zero spam. Now about half my unfiltered mail is spam. Ten years ago, the global cost of spam was the occasional lecture from a sysadmin. Now it costs around ten billion dollars a year []. And it's still growing, despite the massive effort put into fighting it. So you let me know the dollar figure where you think it becomes a "real" problem, and we'll give you a call back then.

    It's my right to write a post that you may find ignorant. This is not murder. This is not theft. This is a minor inconvenience.

    You indeed have the legal right to say anything you please, smart or dumb. But if you try to do it outside my house with a megaphone at 3 am despite my requests to stop, the cops will come by to haul you away pronto, no matter how much you point out that it is neither murder nor theft, and despite any waving of the first ammendment. And thus it should be with spam.

  • by DzugZug ( 52149 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:35AM (#230080) Journal
    Dear Rob,

    This is to inform you that you are inviolation of the DMCA for using the SPAM(tm) product image in association with the term SPAM when refering to UCE, thereby circumventing our techonological means to prevent unauthorized association. Our technological means are as follows: we told you not to.

    Federal law clearly states that if you do not cease and disist this association you have no chance to survive make your time.

    Hormel Foods
  • I'm beginning to think a lot of companies like spam, similar to how anti-virus companies like viruses. Makes them money. I just priced some email filtering software for Exchange and it's like $6K! You've got to be kidding me.

    So... this is another win for free software. Instead of spending $6K on commercial-ware I'm building a Linux system to act as a mail relay and start using RBL and some simple content filtering. What are people's results with doing similar things? No one here cared about doing such things until the VPs started getting XXX teen hot pr0n spam. :)
  • Want to fight back? There is a super easy way to doing it.

    First, report all spam you get. It's easier then you think too -- Spamcop [] is a great free service which parses the headers of a spam and reports it for you automagically. It's pretty keen.

    Second, check out Sneakemail [] to prevent spam from reaching you -- period. (See the Sneakemail descripion [] for a full explanation of how it works. Suffice to say, it is tres cool.)

  • That's pretty bad. They're a pretty established and legitimate company. Looks like spam is getting mainstream.

    Subject was "Your Family Trip" if you want to compare notes.
  • I usually try to call the 1-800 if they give one and I feel vengeful. Anyone know how much they pay for each call? Anyone got software that keeps calling them through the night? Is that somehow illegal?
  • After that, we marry them [forged-header spamsters] off to the Bush daughters ...

    What have you got against the Bush daughters?
  • 1. First track down the culprit and remove their genitalia.

    2. Shot all immediate family members including parents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, neffews and nieces.

    3. Seize all assets and distribute those assets to all politcal parties which the culprit was not a member.

    4. Remove the culprits name from the voter rolls, remove the culprits social security number and destroy the culprits birth records.

    5. Emmerse the culprit in honey.

    6. Cover the culprit with Texas Red Ants.

    7. Release a swarm of African Killer Bees near the culprit.

    8. Take a flamethrower to the culprit while simultaneously unloaded a 12 gauge shotgun into the culprits knee caps.

    9. Urinate on the culprit's charred remains.

    10. Scoop up the remains into a small jar and place the jar on display in the "This is what happens to spammers" Department of Justice Building.
  • I agree with your advice to think carefully on this issue which is a sticky one. Clearly, we don't want a "cradle to coffin" government. I'm not sure if the government is the answer. Clearly, the "personal privacy" argument is null and void when it comes to SPAM. However, the cost associated with SPAM should be considered. The internet is a resource that must be managed. As individual concerns compete for larger shares of that limited resource some decisions must be made. Whether the large companys will controlling positions in net or governmetns police this asset is debateble. However, someone has to limit excesses. We'd all agree that if I started DOSing an ISP that would be illegal. Is SPAM all that much different?
  • Anything that potentially legitamizes spam is a bad thing. Most legitamate companies won't spam you because they know it'll alienate more customers than it gets them. If we put a legitamate air on spam, that could change and we don't want that.
  • Did you ask them to spam you? You gotta be careful when poking around on those web sites -- most of the ones I've seen require you to click a button if you don't want E-Mail from them. Of course, the Long Distance companies employ those annoying telemarketers too, many of whom merrily slam you on to the service without so much as a by-your-leave. That's about as dirty as spamming, so they don't really have a lot to lose, do they?
  • by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:07AM (#230094) Homepage Journal
    It takes a lot of delta V to send someone to the sun. Also, unless you encase them in a life support system, they won't live long enough to feel the heat. Even at $500 per spam, the fines would not pay for punishment.

    I suggest something equally gruesome, and much cheaper. Weld the spammers into 55 gallon drums weighted down with cinder blocks and drop them into the sea above the Marianas Trench. For a little more, you could add a little window through which the spammer could watch the sunlight diminish and die and they plummet into the icy depths.

    Commentators here could have fun speculating as to whether the pressure or asphixya kill the spammers first.


  • I do not want them to regulate spam, I want them to give me the right to collect a fine from any company which sends unsolicited email.

    We have laws against trespassing on a person's land, but that doesn't keep me from visiting my friend's house, with their invitation and permission. Spam is just another form of trespass, and anti-spam laws are just another form of anti-trespass law.

    The point of trespass is that you are only in violation of the law if you are acting without permission- nobody suggests that anti-trespassing law restricts our freedom to travel. And anti-spam laws do not restrict our freedom to send or receive email.

    If you walk on a person's land without their invitation, without their permission, after they put up 'No trespassing' signs, you are open to prosecution. I want the same protection and the same prosecution after you send me unsolicited email despite the 'NO UCE' banner on my SMTP server.

  • This is a gross abuse of the term 'fair use'.

    There's this one guy who goes to the bars and nightclubs every Friday night, walks up to each single woman in the place, and says "Wanna fuck?".

    Each Friday night he propositions over a hundred women, gets slapped in the face dozens of times, receives a couple of death threats from angry boyfriends, and gets banned from at least one bar.

    But at least once a month, he gets laid.

    This is the same law of averages by which spam 'works'..

    It costs next to nothing (except your self-respect) to walk up to every strange woman you meet and ask "Wanna fuck?". It also costs next to nothing to spam tens of thousands of e-mail addresses.

    But neither is socially acceptable behavior. And neither approach works in the long run- you will permanently piss off thousands of people, ruin your reputation, kick you kicked out of every establishment you frequent, and destroy any chance you might of had for long-term relationships.

    And those are just the consequences of spamming- the "wanna fuck" approach can get you STD's, stomped, or even killed.

  • by Nonesuch ( 90847 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @10:47AM (#230097) Homepage Journal
    There are no 'freedom of speech' issues here, as the first amendment does not apply to private property.

    Your right to free speech ends at my SMTP server.

    Congress may make laws restricting your ability to trespass on my property for the purpose of 'excercising your freedom of speech' without violating the first amendment. Many anti-spam claims are based on the concept of 'trespess to chattel', all we need to do is codify that.

  • Then don't post your damn email. If I wanted my phone number private, I could make it so. Besides the fact that I don't complain about people calling me, I have a filtering device, perhaps you've heard of it, it's called caller id. Just like the devices I have to filter out unwanted mail.
  • by Fesh ( 112953 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @09:48AM (#230110) Homepage Journal
    Even better, fill the barrels with pure oxygen and let them go down about 5000 feet or so... Then a depth gauge cuts the rope to which the cinderblocks are attached. Explosive decompression, anyone?


  • Those headers are only reliable if nobody futzs with them. And futzing with them (or deleting them) is trivial.

    Adding headers is trivial. Adding headers that make sense, is not. (also, there is no way to delete headers from mail)

    It's also trivial to spoof your IP address

    During an interactive SMTP session? You might want to check on that.

    could create an email message here on my machine, add a couple of headers that say it was routed through Microsoft's and Sun's SMTP servers, and deliver it directly to your ISP's SMTP server with a spoofed IP that looks like I'm sending it from slashdot's IP address.

    True, but i would throw those out as being bogus due to the fact that there is no reason for slashdot to send mail thru Microsoft who would then pass it to Sun who would then pass it thru you who would then pass it to me.

    Your IPS's server might attempt a reverse DNS lookup (probably wouldn't), and even if it failed, it'd probably just mark the thing as "unverified."

    Who cares if rDNS fails? I have your IP address, thus i have you.

    There would be no way to trace that message back to me.

    I think I could. In fact, I know I can.

  • $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 bills haven't been issued since 1969, supposedly due to "lack of use," though the more cynically minded (such as myself) believe it was more likely because it's harder to track paper money than it is to track checks, credit cards and wire transfers.

    If you're curious, you can see graphics of these old bills [].

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.

  • A little while back, there was a story posted about an LA Times reporter who followed up on all SPAM that came into his mailbox for a week. I noticed that nearly all the spammers fell into a small number of categories:

    1. Multi-level marketing promotions, sometimes referred to as "pyramid" schemes.

    2. Businesses either blatantly illegal, banned from doing business in certain states, or operating offshore.

    3. Businesses making false or questionable claims.

    In each of these cases, there are already other legal recourses, and in many instances listed by the author, some legal action had in fact been taken. Yet they still persist in sending SPAM.

    In short, our legal system is already overwhelmed by these losers, and passing another law (even if it is a good one) isn't likely to have a significant effect. What we really need is to increase significantly the chances of actually CATCHING and CONVICTIING the scofflaws. That's the only thing that really will help.

  • Actually, the fact that there was no "User Unknown" error returned by your mail server is enough proof to the spammer that they sent the spam to a valid email address...

    What clicking the "remove me" link does show is that you are a person who reads spam and clicks links contained therein, or takes the time to respond to spam. Call it the sucker-sieve - it helps identify those born every minute.

  • So while presorted mail costs the post office less, they also charge you less for it too.

    They charge you less for presort because you are doing the bulk (NPI) of the postal service's work. They're still making money off bulk mail.

    Want to really save postage? Presort and deliver your own mail. ;-)

  • Take the original message (included with the bounce response) and run it through SpamCop to find out the source. Have fun.
  • Will services like SpamCop [] now be in a type of "repo-man" business? Trying to get some of the $500 cut if they help catch a spammer?

    Will laws like this legal recourse for spam bounty hunters?

    I hope so...
  • First, this is H.R.718 [] being discussed. There are three other anti-spam bills in Congress, but H.R. 718 is the only one to get anywhere in committee.

    This is a mild spam bill. It's "opt-out", not "opt-in". It doesn't require the "ADV:" marker that California law requires, although there's a vaguer marking requirement. It has a "limited private right of action", and doesn't allow class action suits. The enforcement organization is the FTC, which rarely brings criminal prosecutions even where the law allows it.

    It's mostly a relief bill for ISPs. Spammers are required to avoid spending spam to ISPs that don't want to take it. This sounds like something AOL is pushing.

    One particular nice feature covers anti-spam policies expressed during SMTP negotiation:
    (ii) NOTIFICATION IN COMPLIANCE WITH TECHNOLOGICAL STANDARD- Such policy is made publicly available by the provider of Internet access service in accordance with a technological standard adopted by an appropriate Internet standards setting body (such as the Internet Engineering Task Force) and recognized by the Commission by rule as a fair standard.

  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:20AM (#230134) Homepage Journal

    Of course, when forged headers are used (as is mostly the case) you rely on the cooperation of the ISP to obtain the users identity.

    Or use SpamCop [] to parse the headers and automatically route the spam to the abuse department of the ISP where it originated.

  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:02AM (#230135) Homepage Journal
    According to Hormel Foods' SPAM Trademark Policy [], "We do not object to use of this slang term to describe UCE, although we do object to the use of our product image [] in association with that term." Hormel just doesn't want SPAM Luncheon Meat to be confused with UCE.
  • Hormel should simply create and sell its own bulk e-mail software and ride the wave. They've been in business since 1891. Who else would know more about Spam?
  • How about $500 plus attorney fees and costs?

    But, that might start TV ads that say, "You have been SPAMMED, we can get you money -- call 1-800-SUE-THEM" or "Show SPAMMERS that you mean business call David Pitard. He will get you money."

  • by monkeyfamily ( 161555 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:13AM (#230152) Homepage
    Whoops - thought the prev. comment would link to the script I found somewhere a few weeks ago - so here it is on my little server: [] - it'll crawl the top 10-20 entries on the "Bulk Email Software" category of Goto, pretending to be a real user-agent and "visiting" all the links that cost 'em money. Run it as often as you can, and they'll all go out of business! -MF
  • Legislation should be narrowly targeted to provide law enforcement with the tools they need to combat abuses without opening the floodgates to frivolous litigation or interfering with legitimate uses of e-mail for marketing purposes," said the [competing] bill's sponsor, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. - (emphasis mine)

    Um. Excuse me. I thought that was the point? :)
  • In the US, the Postal Service is completely funded by the sale of postage. (Not taxes, etc...) The revenue brought in by "bulk mailers" helps them keep afloat. (Though stamps keep creeping up a penny...)
    My problem with spam is that there is NO compensation for resources consumed. Bandwidth costs, infrastructure costs, administration costs.

    The spammer provides no support for these services. I hate junk mail as much as the next guy, but at least it has some (slight) value.

  • by hex1848 ( 182881 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:13AM (#230161) Homepage
    We've been seeing major problems with email protocols for years now. SPAM and forged headers are just some of the many problems that the current infrastructure possesses. It seems to me that a new secure mail protocol could be developed that would solve many of these problems and keep all the medalling Feds out of everyone's business.
  • by stinkydog ( 191778 ) <(ten.godegnarts) (ta) (ds)> on Friday May 11, 2001 @09:26AM (#230167) Homepage

    I'll be watching my inbox for this if this law is passed.

    Get rich quick!!! New anti-spam law passed. Recieve up to $100 per unsolicited email you collect.

    Here at Shark, Leech and Parisite incorporated we specilize in prosecuting cases of unsolicited email. For $39.95 we will send you our patented unsolicited email collection system. By creating multiple mailboxes and exposing the addresses in public places you soon will be a magnet for bulk e-mail. Using our system you gather the offending messages and ship them off to or legal bot. Once every 20 minutes the bot generates a lawsuit and delivers it to a random court some where in the US. Should a lawsuil be succesful you will receive your check for the total award(after we take out costs and expenses).

    Relpy to if you feel recieved this message and error or would like to be removed from our list.

    By signing on to the internet today you have indicated your consent to recieve this message. This is not "spam" because we say it is not.

    I think I need to patent this business model!

  • Senate Causes Economic Disaster

    [AP Washington, D.C.] - The passage of an anti-spam bill has been blamed for the worst inflation seen in the whole of human history.

    "We never realized the consequences of making each unsolicited "spam" email cost $500," said Rep. Heather Wilson. "Everyone in America with an email address suddenly and instantaneously saw their income magnify over a thousand-fold overnight."

    The well-intentioned Anti-Spam bill, when passed into law, caused email-accounts to become an instant gold mine. The average user, who gets between 10 and 25 unsolicited, or "spam" emails per day, resulting in a net income of between $5000 and $12,500 per day.

    But many internet users hold multiple e-mail accounts, and each could be a potential boon in the new economy, which replaces traditional manufacturing and service jobs as the primary means of income with civil suit legislation.

    "This is better than being Bill Gates," said John Q. Public. "Finally all those promises I've been seeing about becoming an internet millionaire by doing nothing have started to come through. I have an AOL address that's been active since 1992 -- that baby's generating over $200 million a day for me."

    The resulting inflation, however, has sent the world economy into a steep downward spiral which few, if any economists predict will reverse any time soon.

  • Or use SpamCop to parse the headers and automatically route the spam to the abuse department of the ISP where it originated.

    Yes, but the issue here was squeezing spammers for money, to do that you need their identity - which in turn the ISP must disclose to you - which in turn leads to the ISP violating quite a handful of laws regarding privacy and appropriate use of server logs.

    I guess you could file a suit against a "John Doe" and have the court issue the necessary orders to obtain the identity, of course.

  • by egjertse ( 197141 ) <<gro.ttuf> <ta> <todhsals>> on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:12AM (#230172) Homepage
    Headers can only be forged up to the point where the SMTP servers take over handling of the message. From there, the SPAM will be tagged with the servers "Received: " lines etc.

    Of course, when forged headers are used (as is mostly the case) you rely on the cooperation of the ISP to obtain the users identity.

    Cauce [] has a pretty good tutorial on examining mail headers for useful information, if you're interested.

  • IANAL, and I am a bit curious as to what means I - as a non-US citizen - have to retaliate against spammers using the US legal system. Our country doesn't have those kinds of laws, and given that most of the SPAM passing through our networks come from the US anyways, that wouldn't help much.

    Can I file a complaint agains a US citizen violating a US law outside of the US?

  • It's been said before, but I think it bears repeating: An 'opt-out'/'unsubscribe' mechanism on an unsolicited e-mail simply can't work.

    I won't respond to spam with an opt-out clause, because I know that many of those spammers are simply using my reply to validate my e-mail address -- they won't stop spamming me. So I'm afraid to opt-out through that route. It just generates more spam. I'm happy to opt-out on websites I visit, and I respect vendors with responsible privacy policies. No problem there. But once somebody has sent me a piece of spam, I'm powerless, and the situation just gets worse.

    Another big problem with opting out is that an unscrupulous spammer can work around it so easily. What does opting out actually block? Another copy of the same message? Another message from the same advertiser? Much spam is sent out on contract, by little service bureaus. These outfits appear and disappear, change names, change IP addresses, etc. If I opt out of "Call us first for your copier supplies" they might remove me from that distribution and I won't get another version of that spam. But instead they'll send me "Training opportunity" or "Our next stock pic," or they'll pass my name along on one of those "CD's with 1,000,000 verified e-mail addresses." How do you opt out of a CD? How do you filter out the future incarnations of today's spammers? How many legitimate businesses advertise this way -- I rarely see a name I recognize or a permanent website or mailing address? And why should we have to spend time doing this?

    The good guys will respect the intent of my opting out, but the good guys aren't the problem. It's the bad guys who will find a way to spam me no matter what. Even if they potentially have to pay a fine, many will simply evade the law. It's going to be hard to cut down on the spam, and it is we, the recipients, who are paying the cost of receiving the spam.

    The solution is not censorship of e-mail, though some folks seem to view any anti-spam step as censorship. We're not talking about personal liberties, or protected commercial speech. We're talking about harrassment. It's the same as calling my home phone every hour from a different payphone and trying to sell me insurance.

    I'm sick and tired of spending such a large part of my day dealing with e-mail from people I never heard of, never wanted, can't stop, and can't easily filter out without risking the loss of legit mail, which is the reason I pay for the connection in the first place.
  • How can a $500 fine be assessed against an off shore entity? Honestly abot 90% of my or more is open relay spam. Most of it comes from somewhere in Korea, China, or Taiwan (no offense guys). What's to stop these mass mailers from going overseas for their bulk mailing?

    One's existence elsewhere has nothing to do with US enforcement. We have the power, we have the nukes, we have the marines, we have the ships, we have the airplanes (ok, so two are down), and we have the Net.

    I can see it now:
    Join the Marines! The Few, The Proud, The Anti-Spam! We hack more foreign spam servers before breakfast than most people will see in their lifetimes!

  • My proposal is as follows:

    1: Get two boxes running something that can handle a HUGE load, such as FreeBSD or Linux.

    2: Put them in California. Get an autoresponder going on both of them.

    3: Have one forward all Spam collected in a month to the other one. It auto responds to the one that sent the mail.

    4: The other box auto responds.

    5: Repeat 3-4 until California is blacked out.

    6: Blame it on Spam.

    7: Repeat when California is back up.

    8: Keep doing this until Spam is banned.

    Or to just plain get email banned try Humorix's Soultion. []


  • Plase click my homepage and vote for my wife (Angie) in this month's Sexiest Geek Alive contest!

    1) s/Plase/Please/

    2) Angie is quite sexy, but is not the sexiest person on that page

    3) You link from a story about Spam to a site that harvests email addresses? Truly brilliant!

  • Considering five hundred bucks for every piece of spam...
    That is quite crippling to a company if you take the time to think about it.
    Companies might send 5,000 spam, multiply that by 500 and you got a 5 million dollar fine. Most of the companies that do spam, that would do major damage to them. For the small company, 50 spam alone would cripple them.
    But, spam is quite annoying, can we apply this law to chain letters too.
    The court though, might find 500 too extreme and lower it to 50 to 100 bucks...
  • $500 for the _first_ unsolicited e-mail is a little steep, and IANAL, but probably it would be rejected by the courts. In some long-ago case the Supreme Court decided that for a city to ban _all_ door to door sales violates the first amendment, and that's certainly more intrusive than e-mail. However, I think that first contact is about all that's protected; there can be (and I hope are) laws against salesmen carrying false ID or coming back after the homeowner tells them to stay away.

    So what I'd like to see would be like this: One unsolicited e-mail allowed from a business to one address. Unless the addressee responds in such a way as to specifically invite more mail, the second one (from the same or any associated business) costs $500, the third $1,000, etc. Unsolicited commercial mail with a bogus return address: $10,000, with prison time possible if the offense is repeated.

    Finally, a strict opt-in policy for any web sites that collect e-mail addresses or other personal data. That is, you have to check a box or something by the question "Can we send you e-mail announcing new products or services." It cannot be checked by default. It has to be distinct from permission to e-mail in regards to your existing business relationship; that is, if you tell them they can e-mail you about delivery of your order, that doesn't allow them to e-mail advertisements. And finally, to give your e-mail address or any other personal information to others requires another opt-in -- and selling your e-mail address without permission will cost the seller on the same per e-mail scale as with unsolicited e-mail.
  • The government is paranoid about money laundering and they think that making cash more of a pain to handle they will slow that down. Then they should go back to gold, you'll _notice_ someone with $50K of gold in his briefcase.
  • you track "every piece" of junk email someone sends? Sounds like a great idea, in theory, 'cause nobody likes spam. In practice, I'd be interested to see the methods for tracking the spam and proving it came from the spammer (especially when they forge headers, etc). Suggestions?
  • I get so-called "Spam" quite frequently. I, frankly, don't really see the problem with it. It's just people wanting some help. For instance, yesterday I was contacted by two 18-year old college freshman that were becoming models. They just wanted me to give them feedback on some pictures they took. I went to their site and not only were there pictures of them, but their friends too. I guess college girls are really into amateur photography these days. So I responded to the girl's email (her name was Justine) and gave her some feedback (for instance, I suggested she not let her friends make pop-ups and things on her site (they must be in an HTML class together, I guess). I also suggested that she urge the photographer to use better lighting.) Unfortunately, my email never reached her, I'm not sure what went wrong; it seemed like a valid email address ( Oh well, I hope that Justine reads this message so she can get my feedback.

    I personally enjoy receiving "Spam", as it allows me to help out other web designers with their sites. In exchange, I get to learn about interesting young woman (with some amazing talents). Even better are the ideas people send for me to earn money. Tell me that the human soul isn't a benevolent one, when every day I get mail from people looking to help me earn free money.

    God Bless America.

    • Will services like SpamCop now be in a type of "repo-man" business? Trying to get some of the $500 cut if they help catch a spammer?

    Great point! Heck, they can have all of it, I just want to receive a mail that says: "Thanks in part to your contribution, Jane Q Spammer has just had her assets seized pending payment of her $20,000 fine." Mmmmm, yummy.

  • by Razzious ( 313108 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:35AM (#230217)
    I admit it. I worked for a company that spammed people often. They got alot of business from it thus they continued to do it.
    Some of your arguments are flat out IGNORANT though. First off anyone in the US that says "I have to pay for ISP access so I shouldn't have to pay for spam" is talking without thinking. If you are paying per e-mail you receive, paying for extra bandwidth from spam etc. Go get yourself a new ISP. If you can't figure out how to FILTER your mail, then read that HELP FILE. If paying for access is what you are saying is the point, then get a P.O. BOX and file charges against all the unsolicited mail you recieve at that box since you have to pay anually for it(the P.O. Box).
    People continue spamming for 1 reason. They get results. I know of a long distance company that gets 75% of its customers via SPAM. Why would they want to stop that?
    If you read the numbers its not that many people that really are concerned about SPAM. The ones that are ANTI SPAM are just vocal about it.
    Do I like spam? NO
    Do I want the government to regulate it HELL NO!
    You people talk through both sides of your mouth. You say no to more gevernemtn except when it helps your cause.

    Razzious Domini
  • by BIGJIMSLATE ( 314762 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:08AM (#230218)
    "Punishment should be sweet and simple: launch spammers into the sun."

    What did the sun ever do to you to recieve such a harsh punishment?! If you want to banish them to some place of no return, send them to Detroit.
  • Indeed, bulk postal mail ends up subsidizing non-bulk mail, since it comes pre-sorted and thus costs the Postal Service much less.

    I'm not sure that's correct. I used to work at Kwik Kopy and they had a bulk mailing service. Kwik Kopy did all the printing and sorting and then took it in bins to the post office. Well, because of that, postage was at a markedly reduced rate, under $0.20 per letter. So while presorted mail costs the post office less, they also charge you less for it too.

  • If it didn't cost so much, I'd tape those return postage paid cards to cans of spam and send them back to prove a point.
    It takes me more time to open those 5 important looking credit card offers every day than it takes to check off all the spam in my inbox and hit delete.
  • Pretty much every time I hear him open his mouth, he's pushing a pro-organization, anti-individual agenda. If it isn't religion, it's business.

    From the article...
    At Thursday's hearing, Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., urged the business leaders to work harder against the bill. "I would suggest a full-court press," Barr said, calling the legislation "broad and heavy-handed." Securities Industry Association representative Marc Lackritz replied, "We are engaged and active in trying to slow this train down." Barr responded: "I think you all need to be a bit bolder. I'd take off the gloves."

    Gloves off, indeed. I will be forwarding spam to his office's email address. Not the pr0nospam, not the 'make money now!' spam, but the 'did we say "opt-in"? haha, we were only joking' spam, and the 'time to convert our customer list to ad dollars' spam.

    If you're considering sharing the spam with Representative Barr (or any conservative rep., for that matter), do not, under any circumstances, send pr0nospam. It will only provide fuel for censorship efforts.
  • I propose a $10,000 fine for any spam sent with fake headers so you can't trace it back to the source. That'll teach them.

    Maybe $15,000 for spammers located in jurisdictions that don't recognize U.S. law.

    It's about time we start seriously punishing people who don't let us find them or who we can't legally touch.

    (When is somebody going to tell Congress that the Internet extends beyond American borders?)

  • Yes but Hormel is a sponsor of OSDN, so technically this is considered advertising. Think Geek will be selling the entire line of spamwear soon, and will also be selling 24 tin cases for $109.95 (plus shipping).

    "Fuck your mama."
  • by Magumbo ( 414471 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:23AM (#230231)
    Ah yes! Bill S 1618 Title III

    It passed the Senate on May 12, 1998. However, it never passed the House and the President never signed it. S. 1618 was never enacted into law.

    I've actually gotten apology letters from people after pointing this out and threatening them.

    Thanks Google!

    "Fuck your mama."

  • If a U.S. court can get jurisdiction over the spammer (for example, if the spammer lives in the state where the court sits, or the spammer is served with process in the state where the court sits) then yes, you may sue him in a U.S. court even if you are not a U.S. citizen. Whether you are willing to do so for $500 is up to you.

    The previous poster is incorrect -- this is not an issue of standing. You have been injured, so you have standing. The issue here is jurisdiction, which should not be a problem.


  • by actiondan ( 445169 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:22AM (#230241)
    Could be bad when the Earth gets into litigation with the sun for sending unsolicited spammers...
  • by actiondan ( 445169 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:17AM (#230242)
    If you ever see such a message on spam, DO NOT reply to the message. If the return address does exist, it is more likely that a reply will elad to mroe spam than less. This is because many spam senders use replies to build a database of active email addresses. The fact that you reply confirms that there is a real person using that address, making it more of a target for spam.

    About the only realistic things you can do are blocking the sender and emailing their ISP to complain.
  • Spammers bad. New laws good. Unfortunately, congress seems to only have two speeds when cranking out new laws: slow and dead slow. These laws are not without loopholes either, which get discovered and exploited.

    I'm not sure how many /.ers are fans of Ernie's House of Whoopass, but this article [] he wrote about the do's and dont's of battling spam is definitely worth a read if you're interested in stopping or at least reducing the amount of spam flung at your inbox by those people who actually think sending spam is an effective marketing tool. Heh, I said tool.

    The article debunks a lot of myths about dealing with spam, like how using the "valid unsubscribe address" (which is required by law to be included in any UCE) will actually hurt you more than it will help. Good stuf in there. Click [], Read, Print, Save, Fight, Win, Take a nap.

    That is all.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming