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The Cody Blog: Prosecute Spam, Already!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Prosecute Spam, Already!

Why is it that the government's in our faces for all the wrong things -- from drug regulation to seatbelt enforcement to online gambling -- but they can't crack down on the spam thing. Spam itself is quite a horrible epidemic, but lately I've been getting these porn emails with the most graphic, horrid, sickening pictures embedded in them. And since I use the "preview" function on my Outlook, I end up seeing some of these pictures.

Look, regulators -- do something worthwhile for once. Go after these people for invading my privacy and my home with this garbage! Not that I have a problem with porn, mind you, but it's wrong to have people pushing it into my home.


Anonymous Jeff Bagley said...

It's hard to argue with you, Cody, regarding spam being not only an annoyance, but an outright invasion of privacy in many instances.

And you don't even have kids! I have two young ones, and though their computer time is rather limited (i.e., almost nil), they most certainly need to be protected from the porn spam, which indeed has reached epidemic proportions.

That said, I'm not sure that direct regulation is the answer. Why not use a market-based approach. How about a tax of one penny per e-mail sent. Normal users would hardly notice, but the spammers -- now faced with zero variable costs -- would be hard hit. They would then internalize the externalities they have created. (External costs include the need for unnecessary additional bandwidth, the cost of spam-filtering software, etc.)

For now, I suggest Postini software. Our tech guys installed it last year, and it works like a charm!

3/02/2005 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Cody Willard said...

Great question, Jeff. But I wouldn't call a "tax" a market based solution. If the people who sell me connectivity services want to charge me for an email, that's one thing. But the last thing I want is for the government to come in and make me pay a tax as a result of my rights being violated by spammers.

They need to just punish the wrongdoers. Big stiff penalties and/or jailtime. You violate rights, you're supposed to be punished in this country. Right? Isn't that the idea?

Please NO MORE TAXES and barriers to communication, which is what an email tax would amount to.

3/02/2005 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff Bagley said...

A tax is, indeed, a market-based solution. It's not a "free-market" solution, to be sure, but I'm not sure the laissez faire approach is working in this case. But that's not important.

The problem is that you are advocating the criminalization of of something that is viewed by many as free speech.

So although the spammers might be violating your rights (although that's debatable), not allowing them to spam could well be violating theirs.

When I suggest a "tax," perhaps it doesn't have to be levied by the government. I most certainly share your views that there are enough taxes already on telecom services. But a charge by the connection-provider, as you suggest, might be a good answer.

3/02/2005 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger The Unknown Broker said...

I managed for the longest time not to have my business e-mail fall victim to spam. But somewhere along the way, I used it for something...and the floodgates of Hell opened.

The most irritating ones here lately are the smutty e-mails that are designed to prevent me from blocking them. I get the same e-mail over and over and over...but with a new sender name.

The name is obviously done with a randomizer program of some sort. So every day I get e-mails from "Shorthorns A. Biko" or "Cafeteria O. Wrongheadedness" or "Gooseberry L. Frankly" or "Readjust P. Indicating"

I've been told that asking to be removed just makes it worse -- they then know they have a live e-mail address.

I'm not sure what the answer is either -regulation and control-wise. To Jeff Bagley's suggestion that a penny per e-mail wouldn't be noticed by most senders, I'm not sure that I agree.

I am on the receiving end of some e-mails -- necessary business-related or requsted e-mails that I know have thousands on the distribution list.

I myself send to a distribution list of a few hundred and my note goes out every day. While not crippling - a cost of $1000 per year would be noticed by me for sure.

3/02/2005 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Cody Willard said...

Fair point on the semantics, Jeff.

My main concern is that I don't want any more unnecessary incumberences between commmunications.

And I totally disagree that it's debate-able that sending nasty (and I do mean, N-A-S-T-Y!) unsoliticited in any way shape or form into my home is a right.

People should not and do not have the right to target me or enter my property (and that includes my computer screens) without my permission and/or without any association with me.

3/02/2005 12:53:00 PM  

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