MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/related; boundary="----=_NextPart_01C612A6.27DB9190" This document is a Single File Web Page, also known as a Web Archive file. If you are seeing this message, your browser or editor doesn't support Web Archive files. Please download a browser that supports Web Archive, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer. ------=_NextPart_01C612A6.27DB9190 Content-Location: file:///C:/222B4C8D/bw_needed_now_laws_to_can_spam.htm Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Type: text/html; charset="us-ascii" Needed Now: Laws to Can Spam - Business Week

ht= tp://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/02_40/b3802104.htm

 

 

 

3D"Business

OCTOBER 7, 2002

LEGAL AFFAIRS

By Mike France

C= ommentary: Needed Now: Laws to Can Spam

If the junk e-mail in your in-box is piling higher, join the crowd. Over the p= ast year, the volume of "spam" has more than tripled. The number of unsolicited electronic come-ons intercepted in August by Brightmail Inc., a= San Francisco outfit that helps Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and others block unwa= nted mass mailings, was a record-setting 5,065,858--up from just 1,504,043 in August, 2001. Spam now accounts for 38% of all e-mail traffic, up from 8% l= ast year, according to Brightmail. "In the last 12 months, it has gone from something that I could manage manually by deleting e-mails into something that's out of control," says David J. Farber, former chief technologis= t at the Federal Communications Commission.

Like many other computer cognoscenti, Farber counterattacks with a software filter designed to stop spam. But it takes a lot of time to decide what to screen out. And cleverly disguised sex ads still break into his computer, w= hile some legitimate messages are bounced away. As a result, Farber doubts filte= rs can ever be a complete solution to the spam plague--a verdict increasingly shared by other technology experts.

That's why it's time for a legal assault. Already, more than two dozen stat= es have passed measures against garbage mail. California, Colorado, and five o= ther states, for instance, now require mass e-mailers to label advertising missi= ves "ADV:" in the header line, which makes them much easier to block = with filters. But state statutes are unenforceable against nonresidents and vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. One unified federal rule, such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which banned unsolicited faxes, needs to be passed in Washington and then evangelized in other countries. If not, spam will continue to eat up time, decrease productivity, tax computer capacity--and ultimately weaken one of the most powerful communications too= ls in history.

Yet federal legislation won't come easily. As reviled as spam is, the idea = of regulating it is surprisingly controversial. Left- and right-wing libertari= ans alike are skeptical of any laws that impede commercial free speech. Noting = that many ads have political overtones--for example, promotions for abortion clinics, gun fairs, or medical marijuana--they argue that any restrictions = on spam could muzzle socially valuable information. "Once the government starts deciding which speech is valid and which isn't, then you are in a dangerous area," says David G. Post, an Internet-law expert at Temple University. "That's exactly what the First Amendment is about."
What's more, many companies in consumer industries with high marketing cost= s, such as retail, travel, and insurance, are worried that lawmakers will prev= ent them from using a powerful ad tool. Amazon.com, the Securities Industry Ass= n., the Direct Marketing Assn., and others have all lobbied against--and thus f= ar blocked --any federal spam laws. They argue that bulk e-mail gives consumers more choice and lower prices while helping small companies take on big ones. "It is a cheap way to advertise, so the savings can be passed on to the consumer," says Joe Rubin, director of congressional affairs for the U= .S. Chamber of Commerce.

Some of these are seductive arguments. But ultimately, they are outweighed = by the utter pointlessness of most spam. Response rates to bulk commercial e-m= ail are thought to be as low as .005%. That means the typical message appeals t= o 50 people and annoys 999,950. All the highbrow defenses of spam start sounding overblown when you consider the sordid reality of the stuff itself--unwanted pyramid schemes, anti-aging gimmicks, and live shower-cam promos. The cacop= hony drowns out any valuable messages, in any event.

It might seem as if the minuscule response rates would doom spammers to failure. Quite the contrary. E-mail is so cheap that they can make money ev= en with almost no click-through. Marketers now pay $150 for a compact disk wit= h 70 million e-mail addresses--or 3,500 new customers. Not a bad deal.

And here's the really troubling development: the economics of spam are only getting worse from a public standpoint. Thanks to aggressive new techniques= for harvesting e-mail accounts, the cost of hooking new customers is constantly plummeting. For example, some programs automatically raid public message bo= ards looking for addresses. Others bombard Internet service providers with random name combinations (asmith@businessweek.com, bsmith@businessweek.com, csmith@businessweek.com) until they hit pay dirt. Such tools are a key reas= on the volume of spam has exploded in recent months.

This development means one simple thing: that private solutions to curbing = spam won't work. This is a classic case of free-market failure. Consumers can ig= nore junk e-mail to their hearts' content, but no amount of rejection will ever = make mass e-mailing unprofitable. Only the government can change the cost-benefit analysis enough to make a difference.

How so? First of all, by following California's lead and enacting federal legislation requiring unsolicited bulk e-mail messages to include "ADV:" in the headers. That would turn filters into a far more effective tool while respecting the rights of spammers and consumers who wa= nt to receive their offers. Just as is the case with junk faxes, anybody who violated the law would be subject to an automatic fine of, say, $25.

Better yet, the government could offer consumers a choice. People who don't want junk e-mail could sign up for a national database of prohibited addres= ses. Spammers that ignored the list would, again, be forced to pay a penalty. Similar programs have been established privately by the Direct Marketing As= sn. to help people avoid telemarketing.

Despite the protests of First Amendment absolutists, both of these measures would probably be constitutional. Commercial free speech is protected, but = it is not immune from regulation. So long as they have good cause, lawmakers a= re allowed to place reasonable restrictions on the conduct of commercial speak= ers. University of Southern California constitutional law professor Erwin Chemerinsky believes that a national "ADV:" law or opt-out list w= ould be upheld. "Giving recipients a choice is different than banning spam," says Chemerinsky.

Of course, these steps would not kill junk e-mail. Offshore e-mailers, including many of the Net's most notorious scam artists and pornography merchants, could still invade U.S. in-boxes at will. Indeed, this loophole = is often cited as an argument why spam shouldn't be regulated at all. But the problem is exaggerated. Well over half of all bulk commercial e-mail, inclu= ding most of the offers for legitimate products and services, originates domestically, according to Brightmail CEO Enrique Salem.

Although it isn't easy to do so, senders can be tracked down and prosecuted= --a prospect that, by itself, would frighten many spammers into compliance. Loo= k at the junk fax law, which has all but eliminated that once-widespread problem= .

Nobody wants politicians mucking around with the Internet. But sometimes they're needed. And, as every morning's spam barrage attests, this is one of those times.

Read a Letter to the Editor about this story.

Legal Affairs Editor France isn't looking for diet pills, psyc= hic advice, or a new mortgage.


Copyright 2000-20= 03, by The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use   Privacy Policy

=

 

 

------=_NextPart_01C612A6.27DB9190 Content-Location: file:///C:/222B4C8D/bw_needed_now_laws_to_can_spam_files/image001.gif Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64 Content-Type: image/gif R0lGODlhLAE2ALMAAPnf5fzv8swAM8wCNdc4X99dfuiJoPG6yPrm6/XP2TMzmWhotJyczs7O5vDw 98DAwCH5BAEAAA8ALAAAAAAsATYAAAT/8MlJq7046827/2AojmRpnmiqrmzrvnAsz3Rt33iu73zv /0CUYEgsGo/IpHLJbDqf0Kh0KpUortisdsvter/gMDdFLZvP6LR6nbSK3/C4/Ctk2+/4vH7pnvv/ gGMme4SFhodOfYGLjHGDiJCRkneKjZaXgiNGBJydnpyQBQUDk02fnwKnnqmqpGWqUZWYWQu1tlu1 s3SaRQYHCRQJBwcBEgcFhQcSAa6lSb4Vwsi/0ccC0BQHBGa+ABMGsQ+6XA0NDhMMWQ0SDeNdvEcG E9tDBcUPCc14FMjOSwUTEsT7doRAsXxqCBCEIsudggXosECcsMDhFhHP5hUxKAFhHn7+/5jcC1Bw wgEkyuipWfikobuJD9JhoVDRopYQGSWoHCJPArg8AB+cDLlEmc4j3h6QRCqQDctE4mxKjIiFgQSZ UmeCyPlgZ6oJAIiG7PmgXxGjXY88+LnmaROX42BizeoFJxKyXgVQEOtPoc+BEswOUZj3jFsmcHXJ pQvGLuC0RvbydWbyCLC/vR5QwtwyatbFjOtuvatxIwVYrFBtLGBg1OABp0jFHmygtb6NtQsUFsDa AD3Yq22/vqy5yIBsRobhbr07VW/BQxbCRk0k8QIG2LXYulWVQU3tVLfnuiL++3XvX7Cj3/WBq9eg Qn3dW1uP2oQiABMYABCAwID+2Bw1zP9p11DQnxEDKHOAAcWwNcQACQQAjQEDFDAUb/js199/BOCF 3wNJLUWEhA8qyCB9R9gjoTcJ7LQQAQckVVkRcK3TAAPnYFUOTQpYNYED35FH1Y4UPUSkG+tM0ECQ V1jlAI4PtCNae6QdlZmVfqFIBFpEADTUAAzKQ4+HPM2znygjNQOhUINxJgAw9BgU41BePhhmV/AJ th+ZXyGz5lB+OVjggWsyU52bAngTAHTReaaFjVjkmIWPD1z35ALnPOAAeFdNWiQWSYpTznVKauFk pFFO6YF7prnpFllEeCPYZXGWVqBPALiSJxE9qWRUPwCJ+BWbiZZVBK1ZOqjfrvU8QEr/r7wGRkSg XRpzqJZD8LdbQ0l6WulUVwEpZKfgxkTLp02iI2WP6Pr4nY9zZeGYEXzaoxR0r943rIN+1WrlrdJe +5NfYVULYpnFRXsStdMeFRARx+nGkgEC+SVsUAW/+a9eVj4FEKOH4sLOuZqWKy6qqZY7F0xBUrqp vOQqkCnJL1802mPCxIiPa5EhCuuwuZ4FWZYqkZVxoyj2dOGwaRnFL5sE65OSAFw2u809F+p369JE M23EZT+xZJCgPW+RZLyfwlTzFUmu+xBV435bVakwm8tuylrJfdPN9H5Tm1EJ8Cxw3xK02ZFKAPkL GcCCLnRP43+hNevCASGeFpn7DVG1/17IPN4zfT0JS7UEBUuXQFNKyAI32+SCBurIKpOs992zKzAk 7Ci7nfeqVS4O5jKC5Vv4EPMtWp3iRU+A71/Jfn4SfELpOlTxZh3IrNYAb0NY8zRae9nSAJOyEIPN Ncpp7Um+7DrreL8ds/uzU8okVasrkH4mvD/mFVlmCZ8wWcYghW4Mtzg+IQ0c8IEcPlIxn3s5B2Em EaD2CBKxZkmrAGFJ4OfCMqMtaYQg+XmLo2jHpFDFrYS4g9/K0EU7m5lrffabAP46wCojyIge/oMY cUi3k65B0CsEAWAGLEgBB62JAgDYSVIEAhBXNG9BANNAlqTIsbVwxFh8GGGomCQ/+P+hsH3rY5m3 Rmi7TsFEAzPkQA2vhKIc6rACByJg8jZWRXCQBXxIgJ6bjjiBOI5OAmBCXbEWCABk3PEZWTraJuqI FkWqRYssJKEXH5XCMLKQUi5MB6V01xi+sTEv8GmKG0UhgN8ZyIm2MmAdGVeUwTSQPqQ0ZR9dgRfs aW4elztMw6yVRaUEAC1k6x4lJcDFIolRHZVc3THTpbpOUSpenaSS/kqiLzfWpksNHFgqbXVAVhYE HJBJUAU6xBZ7vegbWIQgg9SJhA4dh5cp2gY/smSoNoywi8gk5iTz6TZL6nNuzXxh/aqSxg2scZfD c0vVKGYc4izFh9n7HAJ1aSHO4Wf/Pqw5mjiXca1i6IOegKKoQB6GhLTMiCzBNN8YvxiVZbKvn8q8 pAz3JtD3TaWgGjgoAYfiFhmVaX/6gqgqCcI9eoETfFeszeIgSATiCBJpWMwSHq8Bjs1tZCnSmc+2 RgjD++3zdWCM6T+ZSUb6pbAqnCyjNAm3VHauEqHFkYegBpAUOUaLjgtZIhIKybHbBGVB2CplXd16 LFtdxpGJQgZ88uKLbhK2bFrIFNpaF8m2yW6FY20hTWViQrNBU635Y2teiINDNwGwTPW8q11/KFEi vsdQiHqnUlOLMIOl864JwxAdm8i0uRrvraXUaknJ6KO1waRcX4Tp+1yKyc2e8CLv//Akbt/DkqRc SCE/U1rfmiJUbgI3KUYEQNjwWhbtZgZ1WbqNbsEHXuOI9660zZxjiTjVhmTqXTFzaQzDulyZBlRH Zy1HdNf6yauaVnmpEG9214ItZfSju+QlFgMDBqF6gogYKlFIWOTa4Nt2pJ2IumI/KqyP7+kqnT31 Lse4MBEpYapkyB2mcu1G1pbNtG5zkWxVTubC0PKmNvOpTW2+5xU+/gWlHcrgL3WjDHAQwEIm0U0B iKMN/3SojwOcMD6I4ceyJEhCTw7AgTJnj2PAKLBNtmderigMMRfZKL+UFSuMNsAnywjMwmQxO6C0 JImEakkVIRU6Av3n7RT6IS++Sv9NFhAqIC06Uw4wB497TMNjifnSmEbAgnYDpmFYgzeeHkZraONp ekQI02JmEKolpKJVQ4xiGZJalzxNoXo82BfDYGxbPajeUsJaP70GtVK0wZNVi1kAxj52yLzA55U5 4NnQjjSmog1tHFE70pKmNgOyHW3sXPvZk1rHk6Lp48mY+9z7IGNo1k1pNaL73fBeibrZTW/QVjre +M43Q+Zd73XPS98AD3ie+03wfwv84PlODMGzYnCEOxzdCl+4TYJA8YpbvAIS7/fFN87xHmS83iH4 uMhHPnF+k3wcIT+5ylceiIiznBEpf7nMZy4amrsj5jbP+cxdrnNHgKDnQGc5z4MYHoaOG/3oSE+6 0pfO9KY7/elQj7rUdRABADs= ------=_NextPart_01C612A6.27DB9190 Content-Location: file:///C:/222B4C8D/bw_needed_now_laws_to_can_spam_files/image002.gif Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64 Content-Type: image/gif R0lGODlhrQAsAHcAMSH+GlNvZnR3YXJlOiBNaWNyb3NvZnQgT2ZmaWNlACH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAAB AAEAgAAAAAECAwICRAEAOw== ------=_NextPart_01C612A6.27DB9190 Content-Location: file:///C:/222B4C8D/bw_needed_now_laws_to_can_spam_files/image003.gif Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64 Content-Type: image/gif R0lGODlhwgA3AMQAAP+NpP+csP/X3/8TQqSk0f/J1P9bfP9sidTU6f98lv8lUf9Kbv+rvP84YGtr tkJCofzz9oiIxP/l6v+6yLy83VFRqLCw1+Tk8sjI48zMzJmZmWZmZgAAAP8AMzMzmf///yH5BAAA AAAALAAAAADCADcAAAX/4CeOZGmeaKqubOu+cCzPdG3feK7vfO//wKBwSCwaj8ikcslsOp/QqHRK rVqv2Kx2y+16v+BwrEMum8/otHrNbrvTH498Tq/b7/i5ePTu+/+AbHF5hIV5ex+BiouMcIaPkHJ7 ZAoBlgEACQN+CQmNZJcBlZcLl2wHAQJqg5EVFggOHhEEkXphZgGJHQEQDX0FBZ9kE7oDHxNkDQKb bACqjrUeDx+xGBDRHmJmALodx30DzJ8HH74dAhJkBsFtzqvY2bEPFdjaZdxkxgwCAgcdAAUCdBhg 6QCAA/zOFTiwLsCmAQwAMNjUgAEDA/4SAMCk4IMnBRA+KNjlMOLEgSY3/7lbIMBSGVbSCBCgEIsC glkIaEly4AADAg8EEFiIgIDCg5gWKNCzBWZbIgUMCmwSAIAMsA4JDGAN5u5cvwESPFHFqmrCpgkA GghsAKGDBGQHyPkrYGBsAlV2VXUVoOklnQu0KlyI9eFChGkRdgIdhOACBQ+OPWDA4MEBhKOSbt37 AAAggKlVO1wFMMEXg3/PCqTrsG5BuQ6uFxQAoEABgAUQtApk0FYgBAajXscWnshd3DOsIrBCQPnD Tw85FRNgfBkoggofEmfTnk0zGXwDJQQbKzoY2w8CFqC2KpD1bM4b6ZI7NlLABwhVDXwo1WFC2Ijw BfBeZwKidgAEI5nByv90cxBwzQc6RRfPYnIg8FxQDnxAAQGvcGfPd93kck5oVxkwAAASiNTVbOoU kMAHzIRjAFQQSFDbAQV8cIAxAmj1Il36xfhijKhNAAE7fsnBoBwWPBihTtRQCN2FsEQpx1LdNbVZ GUaO2EFHwRSQYAELrBjaOg18oFUHBzSwmjELePJPVQK01UGaDDSQ5pptqkmGP+7oJycZyX2AWVHZ PCkdY1Q+AIF2DnhogwYamEAppT+YQUw4CUDgDwMSyCbBMgUIoMAAy+wTjgTt1bXLMguc9tsADZAZ 6i66nUZGbqDAeloqA8T66lQQqEcoHRQ85sAFD0xjgTSRZZiYBYZCdoH/HBgwG8EFFTjwGFMyaMAB BxuQm8EHGZQ7LgeV9kBJKLcJSZtBDJ04byqYWAKAAaYYJKcBDWQywI37krHAmv+I428ZC5MUQCmW JAiTLDIdJRMBDlw8i0wbE7BxBB9XVjEdM2hQ7gbqkpvyuu3yIMzLMAsCz8zgvrCByetykMG4N3/A sg8xBy20NzTTPEPP6W4gArsj8IxIFEXPXDIHI5y7c9XjnutD1Fx3/cjEXhdCg7nkoqv00kz/EPba bGfTtiE0iDtupZh+cHIQb+ddNNh61wzDuiXc/fTgSshdtggna0344kTsrPPJct+cNuOU/+C03T/7 THXlnO8QueFzN91y/+ekx52z0+pWenXprMvgOM+K44zy2a3X7kIGlCpOAu4a6G7778CfUDcWmA6/ h/HoXhq777iXMDoM7c4uvc7Co9xu0s+bPHu4s+M++6U8j4t15jhM7kO5gZOrPeLPpxu47y30bHe6 j5ucwuXq6l5u7+XCz0LomkvazjYwQBGI62YFXAEBWSA/H8jNeZsbYPN6N8FzFa9ddbNa9lRnPpQh TmkYbNndXveBSwnOfZfqnfJUeKkRoA9dZcMU2c4mPgN6j27em5/conczTBEQU0mz2wJxILn0jcBw ODug+k4mPpwlDWXU+6DOAPhBxJGLXTssIcvURcDTpW9dK2NXzkTgOP8ohq+LklPazkbHxNOdbn9h 9OIbn1cyyenucJjrn7iSdsUfZu1xYrwi1p5IOxhqbW5pPJsSrSdGuomPflfEohjTqLJG8oyLBxSX EzHXsgJGMnwH1NwUoXiyNkLRfzKYXRSXRjssgvBmXYRhpZSGPk0+rpVUgyMJxCU6k/HyiL2bmy0d GcG5/bGRokSZ9xKoR3bBUWe4m1zotmhJpbHMmVOM3OYCeIO6eZCMTKOfOL93wGj6zInmsuYQ0aey 0f1yZ5B05rnYNcAdtnN/nDynKI2ZOheGM2sr4yLa0FZJdlIKjHEs2ydVBkU6Qi9tADzg9jgZutf1 DJFlu+gQy7jGquFWs3hdZJq67Iazghqwj1q0YCNN1tGTAvSS2NwkDNcVzVvCU4lZMxw+A2lPPAYB lScAKgvgWTqhYs2hwTNgIZPaNPMxtWpIDV7unkrVqlr1qljNqlZJFwIAOw== ------=_NextPart_01C612A6.27DB9190 Content-Location: file:///C:/222B4C8D/bw_needed_now_laws_to_can_spam_files/image004.gif Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64 Content-Type: image/gif R0lGODlhAQABAJEBAP///////wAAAAAAACH5BAEAAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== ------=_NextPart_01C612A6.27DB9190 Content-Location: file:///C:/222B4C8D/bw_needed_now_laws_to_can_spam_files/filelist.xml Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Type: text/xml; charset="utf-8" ------=_NextPart_01C612A6.27DB9190--