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This 63 message thread spans 3 pages: 63 ( [1] 2 3 > >     
Are Privacy Concerns Killing the Internet?
The Negative Side of the Anti-Spam Movement
cyril kearney

 1:52 pm on Jul 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

The Internet grew to about 200 million users from 1993 to 1998. This growth was without any large media companies hawking it. No telephone, cable or broadband carriers were pushing it. No marketing companies were creating demand for the Internet. Neither AOL nor Microsoft were involved in this growth.

It grew because it allowed users to find specific content that could not be found in easily in print, TV or radio. It allowed people to interact, express opinions and develop friendships with others with their same interest.

Since 1998 the number of users has more than doubled. The large media companies, the dot coms have arrived. Many of them have failed; others like AOL are in trouble.

Why? Well I feel part of the reason is that they tried to supplant those things that that attracted the original Internet visitors. The rush to content has been an effort to transform the traditional media, news, magazines, TV and radio to Internet format. This is mass media but not the special interest content of the earlier period.

Fueling this rush were advertisements aimed at transforming direct mail and telemarketing to the Internet. Some of these sites worked and some didn't. Part of the reason for the failures has been the losing sight of what first brought visitors to the Internet.

With the rise of the huckster on the Internet, has come a concern about privacy. No one wants their credit card numbers compromised or to be identified to the hucksters. No one wants to be profiled or to have his or her interests tracked. The Anti-Spam movement is becoming a powerful force preserving privacy.

The downside to this I feel is that we are often throwing out the baby with the bathwater. If we can not identify people with interests like ours; if we hide behind a bunch of different screen names; if we filter out everyone that we haven't communicated with before, aren't we giving up the very things that attracted us to the Internet?



 2:07 pm on Jul 30, 2002 (gmt 0)


The Internet was started by non-commercial people and has since become a preferred tool to bombard people with items they didn't ask for. The commercial operators know how to use a tool better than most people. Since most people don't know how the Internet works, they need some protection to prevent mis-use by commercial operators. This is why anti-spam is needed.

Spam. usually interupts the flow of information and waste tremendous amounts of resources in time and money. How can this be a good thing?

The question would be, why don't we all just get a chip implanted so anyone can track us wherever we go and feed us information whenever they fell like it. That would be silly, but isn't that what some web sites try to do by tracking anyone who visits certain sites.

Anti-spam is not 'throwing our the baby with the bath water', although a great phrase, it's more like weeding a garden to grow better patch. And we all know how pesky some weeds are.


 2:09 pm on Jul 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think it would be fairer to call it the Anti-Spam response rather than the Anti-Spam movement...it isn't as if people started to demand a response to spam until AFTER it became a serious problem

I don't sign up to mailing lists or join dodgy link exchange schemes etc...I use only reputable ISPs and web hosts...and yet I have one account that is already almost unusable through the sheer volume of spam it receives...NONE of it of any interest to me whatsoever

I don't like having to be overly private, but unless the spamhouses are reined in then I have no choice

in work terms I fight a constant battle against spammers who use email addresses that are crucial to our suicide prevention service as faked reply-to addresses...I can't keep some of these addresses hidden...but they are heavily abused by large numbers of people who believe the only purpose of the Internet is to provide themselves with beer money and who consider that everyone else and everything else can go hang as long as they can make a buck or two

whilst the bulk of Internet marketing remains the preserve of the immoral, the short sighted and the greedy, then people will resposnd inappropriately to the floods of unwanted and often sexually explicit garbage that floods their mailboxes...it is already causing considerable damage to the Internet as a whole

but the answer is regulation and legislation to introduce suitable penalties for the spammers and those who aid and abet them


 2:10 am on Jul 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi cyril,

I'm pretty sure that we all hate spam... can anyone think of a good instance of spamming? My feeling is that there may be a backlash fueled/fed-off by politicians as a means to grab more state control of the internet. A similar situation has come about through the massive publicity over paedophile-rings. Certainly, it's not something which we want on the 'net, but as usual .gov saw an ideal opportunity to lobby for greater policing freedom.

Maybe the best approach is to deal with it ourselves. It's a bit like 'Peter and the dyke', I know, but the more ethical ISP's and hosting companies could impose tighter contractual restrictions on their subscribers. I realise that many may already do this, but how many take it seriously enough to list an 'no-spamming' clause in their advertising blurb? Given enough pro-active providers the market would start to view such a policy as a pre-requisite for a goodTM service; progressively marginalising the amoral providers.

I could be way off target, but I hope and believe that the 'net community can still police itself.


 12:21 am on Aug 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>I could be way off target, but I hope and believe that the 'net
>>community can still police itself.

the net has had several years to prove that it can police itself, but it hasn't managed to do so yet. the daily barrage of junk mail proves that many people simply don't care and see the net as a free ride that they can abuse for their own means.

regulation is the only way, whether we like it or not - non-regulation simply has not worked. at least 16 states in the US now have some form of anti-spam laws. more states will pass stronger anti-spam laws in due course. the US government will undoubtedly pass some form of anti-spam law eventually. the EU has recently passed strong anti-spam laws to be introduced in each member state over the next year or so (about time too!).

the good thing is that regulation can work and can be enforced. spammers have already been prosecuted in the US and i'm sure we'll see more as time goes by.

cyril kearney

 2:58 pm on Aug 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think the anti-spammers are there own worst enemy.

They have created a degrotary word that has no clear meaning. I remember the f-word when I was in the army. You could use it as a noun, adjective or verb to mean anything. The word 'spam' is just like that.

I think there are 5 wide-spread meanings for spam:
1 - Unsolicited Commercial Bulk Email (Mailings over 25000 pieces)
2 - Mail containing fraud and <adult terms>
3 - All unsolicited commercial email
4 - Any advertisements in any newsgroup or forum
5 - Signature lines in newsgroups and WebmasterWorld

The spammers delight at these varied definitions because you can't regulate anything you can define. Remember the decades of legal battle trying to define <adult terms>! The definition got down to a book by book basis. The books were allowed to be published and sold during the court cases. By the time they got to the Lady Chatterly court case it had sold many millions of copies.

Only my definition 1 has any chance of regulation. Two is already a crime with little chance of enforcement. Three to 5 are recognized infringements on free speach and there is case law in favor of them. (Here I mean a broadbased regulation, each newsgroup and forum may impose its own rules legally.)

Now focusing on definition 1. Most spam operators have moved off-shore so laws in either the US or EU are essentially meaningless. Legitimate US bulk emailers could be regulated in a similiar fashion to how they are now regulated by the postal service. The US could grant email the same status as third-class mail and spend the money to develop a list of email nixies that bulk emailer would be required to use to suppress unwant emails. (A nixie is a direct mail term meaning an addressee that may not be mailed to legally.)

[edited by: Travoli at 4:25 pm (utc) on Aug. 1, 2002]
[edit reason] adult terms removed [/edit]


 3:25 pm on Aug 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

I could be way off target, but I hope and believe that the 'net community can still police itself.

Nope, can't do it. Why not? Too many "offshore" providers, foreign sites and even home sites. Take the situation with spam from china. Tens of thousands of email servers in china are used to relay email. The sites, ISPs and government of china does not really understand the problem (or even care) so has done nothing. The result - many people are simply programming their servers to block anything from China.

regulation is the only way

Won't work either. How can we regulate universities in China or a web site in Finland? The canvas is simply too broad.

So what do we do?

Here's what I do:

I have defined a number of email addresses for different purposes. Each significant newsletter subscription (say the dozen newletters I get a week from Computerworld) are each assigned a different email account. The only thing going to those accounts is the subscriptions. These email addresses are not published and thus have little chance to get spam.

Next, I define different email accounts for different purposes. Most of these use the "white list" concept. This is a list of email addresses from which the account will accept email. Any other emails to these accounts goes into the spam folder. This folder gets a very quick (glancing at subjects only) check once a week or so.

The main point is I only receive emails (using either method) from corporations and individuals which I have authorized. Virtually all other email is simply discarded.

1 - Unsolicited Commercial Bulk Email (Mailings over 25000 pieces)

I would remove commercial from this definition.

5 - Signature lines in newsgroups and WebmasterWorld

This is NOT spam by any definition that I know of. webmasterworld is the only forum that i know of (and I frequent several dozen boards and visit several hundred a month) that restricts signiture links. Email signitures of reasonable length is considered by most to be a valid way to promote yourself, your site, your business or your cause. It is NOT spam.

2 - Mail containing fraud and pornography

This is only spam if it is unsolicited.

Legitimate US bulk emailers could be regulated in a similiar fashion to how they are now regulated by the postal service.

Don't think this will fly. You are suggesting another government agency?

Just some thoughts,
Richard Lowe


 12:35 am on Aug 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>How can we regulate ... a web site in Finland
finland happens to be one of the countries that already has anti-spam laws :)

if all countries have "equal" laws then it gets easier. if a country refuses to implement laws then worldwide blocks on IP addresses from those countries can help "encourage" countries to implement anti-spam laws.

of course, we can create all the laws we want, but laws don't stop crime. it's illegal to commit murder etc, but people still do it - the law can only punish offenders.

so, should spammers go to the electric chair or should they swing from the gallows? :)


 1:00 am on Aug 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

so, should spammers go to the electric chair or should they swing from the gallows?

I think we should keep it all in perspective. I would quantify spam as as annoyance, sometimes major sometimes minor. It's not a capital crime by any means. Yes, I do dream of watching some of the worst spammers slowly sinking in quicksand while drinking my Diet Coke, but it's just a fantasy.

Sometimes spammers are just new and ignorant. sometimes they are desperate for money; sometimes they have no idea they are spamming; sometimes, of course, they are malicious.

Richard Lowe


 1:07 am on Aug 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

I have read none of the above exept title. I am reacting exclusively to title and description.

Privacy abusers and spammers are killing Internet.


 10:24 am on Aug 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

you know that Macguru, and I know that...but the spammers and their apologists seem to think they have a divine right to use other people's money to spread their advertising and don't seem to quite get the idea that because they as individuals don't pay per item they send doesn't mean there are no costs to ISPs

cyril kearney

 3:11 pm on Aug 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

I don't see myself as a spam apologist but I do see the free speech concerns for banning any public expressions even advertisements. The English Common Law settled the rights of advertisers way back in the 1300-1400's. If you are on a public thoroughfare (the Internet) and have a public establishment (a site) and don't want advertisements you are required to take the necessary action. That is the origins of the 'Post No Bills' sign you may still see on fences.

In short you must tell an advertiser when you don't want to get email from him. He is not required to ask you first and in fact may continue to send you email.

For bulk direct mailers the postal service will help you. You may write to them and tell them you don't want to get advertisements from any advertisers. The post office makes your address available to advertisers sending out 25000 pieces or more at a time. If they want postal discounts they are required to suppress these names.

Note: they may mail to anyone if they don't take a discount and anyone mailing less than 25000 pieces can mail anything they want (assuming it has legal content).

People get tons of direct mail each day and discard it without raising the fuss that a small percent of people do about discarding email advertisements. Many of the problems associated with email are caused by the cutesy names people hide behind in email. If you want to be called superstud123 or huggybear don't be surprised if you get viagra ads.

I get as many advertisements as the next person but I am not about to give up my civil liberties so that someone else doesn't have to sort through his morning mail. Use hotmail with the junk filter to catch what ever you can and then check the delete box next to the mail in the inbox. It takes a minute or two and it is far better than trying to build an iron curtain around your site.

There are a lot of problems in the world and spam for most of us ranks about as low as the mashed potatoes are lumpy problem.


 3:17 pm on Aug 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

If you want to be called superstud123 or huggybear don't be surprised if you get viagra ads.

Username has nothing to do with the spam one gets.


 5:13 pm on Aug 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

We had a fairly long discussion about spam several weeks ago here at WebmasterWorld. For anyone interested, that thread is at:


As a result of the information gathered from those postings, I put a page online to help my visitors easily get some anti-spam tools:

<snip - no link drops please>

One thing webmasters can do is add a link such as this on our own sites that will point visitors to information which will help them control the garbage coming into their mailboxes. So if anyone wants to copy the sourcecode and graphics from the "stopspam" page above, and then add that information to their own sites, please feel welcomed to do so....

[edited by: Travoli at 5:33 pm (utc) on Aug. 2, 2002]


 5:18 pm on Aug 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Immediately after adding my posting, I got this info via a listserv:

Ohio Governor Signs Anti-Spam Law
Ohio's Governor Bob Taft signed into law the Ohio Senate
Bill 8, which allows Internet subscribers to sue spammers
for up to $50,000 plus costs, and allows ISPs to sue for
up to $500,000.


 7:21 pm on Aug 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>If you are on a public thoroughfare (the Internet) and have a
>>public establishment (a site) and don't want advertisements you are
>>required to take the necessary action

using your analogy, a public thoroghfare would be the street outside my house, but my house and the path to it is private property. any attempt to advertise on my property would be illegal without my prior permission. anyone attempting to advertise on my property without my permission would be trespassing.

my mailboxes, my websites and my servers are not part of a public thoroughfare, they are my private property - the public thoroughfare is the connection between *between* various servers and stops at each server.

likewise, my home and business computers, onto which i download all emails sent to me, including spam, are my property, not part of a public thoroughfare. nor is the connection between my computer and my mailbox.

my mailbox, my internet connection and my computers are all paid for by ME for MY use. if you consider your computer to be part of a public thoroughfare, would you let anyone just walk in your house and use it at any time that suits them? of course not.

cyril, please stop trying to justify spam, especially with nonsense arguments.


 7:26 pm on Aug 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>Ohio Governor Signs Anti-Spam Law

very good news :)

cyril kearney

 7:37 pm on Aug 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

The Ohio legislation does not attempt to stop unsolicited commercial email unless a person opts-out. Then and only then does the email come under the protection of the new law. This is similiar to the US postal service 'nixies' I described above. Like other states it also requires the use of real email addresses that can accept the opt-outs.

These laws are totally ineffective. We can see that with 20 or so states having these laws spam continues to flourish. Spam emails usually are generated outside the US and even those within the US are mostly outside the state's jurisdiction.

They are clearly unconstitution if applied to interstate commerce because the regulation of interstate commerce belongs to the federal government. (The US Constitution says so.)

I am not pro-spam but I think that most of the anti-spam efforts are a waste of time. Businesses have to learn to factor email into the equation when the set up a business, just as merchants need to factor shrinkage into their inventories.

I also think that the number of people that respond to spam is far larger than the anti-spam activists, so their effort can't be supported by citing that it is the will of the people. Clearly people are buying things or merchants wouldn't be wasting their time.

One might even say they are performing a public service by making Viagra available to the disfunction men in the US. (Please, read that as humor.)


 7:53 pm on Aug 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Businesses have to learn to factor email into the equation when the set up a business, just as merchants need to factor shrinkage into their inventories.

Excuse me? We must allow for people stealing? We run several warehouses as part of our multi-billion dollar operation, and a statement that we have to factor in shrinkage would be laughed out of the room. You know how much shrinkage is acceptable? 0% that's how much! Anything over zero gets investigated and handled. Period.

Using this argument and carrying it to extremes, perhaps a couple should plan on having three children, because it's very possible that one will be killed before adulthood. That would, presumably, make it more acceptable that one was murdered.

There is no excuse for unethical activities, and spam is not ethical. By tolerating it as a fact of life or as part of business, we would be in fact accepting it as normal, and it would become normal and accepted.

We don't have a perfect solution, but that does not mean there is not a good solution to be found.

Richard Lowe

cyril kearney

 4:02 pm on Aug 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

richlowe says:
"There is no excuse for unethical activities, and spam is not ethical."

I missed this when it was first posted. Sorry.

Are we saying that advertising per se is unethical? This would probably be the most extreme position I've ever heard.

I expect that it is the lack of a clear definition of the word 'spam'.

The most common definition today for spam is unwanted email not unethical email.


 5:39 pm on Aug 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

two thoughts
a. delete the email
b. use filters to kill most spam and delete the rest.

spam will not go away. more laws won't kill it do to the fact that there is no regulation world wide. spam is electronic form of junk mail. what do you do with junk mail at home. throw it away.


 6:00 pm on Aug 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'm slowly getting my head around mailwasher, however i do not like spam. It bores the hell out of me.


 6:02 pm on Aug 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

Are we saying that advertising per se is unethical? This would probably be the most extreme position I've ever heard.

Not advertising, spam. Advertising is perfectly fine. Definition of spam (email type): "Email from an unauthorized source." That's the only definition I've heard that works. Simple, easy to enforce, easy to define.

Let's see some examples:

Authorized sources:

- I want my friends to email me.
- My bank has permission to email me when my statement is ready.
- People can enter comments into my guestbook (sends me an email).
- Anyone from my office may email me
- The IRS has my email address and may send me emails relating to my tax situation
- Any and all OPT-IN type listed that I have indeed opted-into (double-opt-in is the best way to do this).
- Companies to which i have requested information or to be added to their mailing list

Unauthorized source:

- Spam harvesters
- Bank does not have permission to email me marketing data
- Comments in guestbooks may NOT be advertisements
- Nigerian scam emails (although they are amusing, after over 1,000 in a month they kind of lose their comedy appeal).
- People selling things that I have never expressed an interest in, have never visited their web site, never even had any contact at all with them or their company
- Any and all OPT-OUT type lists (lists that do not require me to request to be added).

The key point is spam is emails that I have not authorized in one way or another.


 6:37 pm on Aug 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

Permission based email - yes, definitely.

Email about subjects I find of interest - ok.

Unsolicited email - one time only.

Here is the important point, and this is where "regulation" comes in: If I request removal from a list, then it is to happen *promptly*; and, my name/address is NOT to be sold, traded, or given to anyone else for any reason.

I grant that people do not necessarily know my interests, so a single email is acceptable. But if I say remove, I mean remove. And if they fail to do that, then there must be accountability.

Can a server in California stop a spamcreep in Nigeria - probably not. But if we can just (mostly) control all the crap originating in the USA (and perhaps other countries as well that wish to cooperate), then a tremendous load will be removed from the system, and a lot of aggravation from our lives.


 7:31 pm on Aug 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

Wow, A hot topic...Spam...
I just hate it period...
Even using MailWasher I still sort through 100's of junk emails daily.

My Vote.
Hang them ALL and let a higher power sort them out.


 8:10 pm on Aug 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

First, I am so tired of people saying "just set up some filters", "why can't you just delete it"... Well that works great for a single individual.

What about a mail server that have 3,000 users? When they get 100 messages in each box, thats 300,000 messages. At 4KB to 30KB a size - say 15KB average, that is 4,500,000KB or 4394.53125MB or 4.29GB! Four Gigabytes of data sitting on my mail server daily! Who is paying for that 4GB daily to be transfered on my Internet connection? I AM, NOT THE SPAMMER. So I do not want to hear ever again that there is no cost to it - sure, not to the spammer! GRRRRRR... <lotus>Ohmmmmm -- Ohmmmmm Where is my nitro? Ohmmmmm -- Ohmmmmm</lotus>

Getting back to the discussion title, I am not much concerned about spam when it comes to privacy. There are some interesting Javascripts, and HTML pages mailed to me (one tried to grab my MS Passport but failed since I use Mozilla), but nothing major.

What I am more worried about is applications like Kazaa, Gator, and other "scumware" applications as someone calls them. Programs that load without my consent on my machine, then transmit any and all information about anything from my machine to someone else. THAT is a major concern of mine when it comes to privacy.

I am concerned about various government having the right to monitor my activity on the internet without a court order and/or without my consent. THAT is a major concern of mine when it comes to privacy.

I am concerned about vendors that promise to deliver a secure container for private information and not to track every move, to find out later that the vendor was lying and even reselling the information (Passport anyone?). And the stupid government believing their lame excuse... THAT is a major concern of mine when it comes to privacy.

I am concerned about video cameras in public places, which will be sold as intersting footage to the highest bidder despite the promissed privacy, and government oversight. THAT is a major concern of mine when it comes to privacy.

I am concerned about my medical records sold to my company without my consent, to make sure I am not going to increase their insurance rates. THAT is a major concern of mine when it comes to privacy.

I am concerned about a lawyer reviewing my purchasing habits at various gorcery and goods stores so they can suggest to a jury that I am unreliable or somehow a deviant. THAT is a major concern of mine when it comes to privacy.

All of the above have happened with someone, in the U.S. or somewhere else.

Laws and edicts are passed at Local, State and Federal levels in the US that limit or completely strip our civil liberties and privacy.

Is it a knee-jerk reaction? Maybe, at a small level, but in many cases it is simply greedy interest groups, corporations and individuals taking advantage of our fear. (Don't try to paint it as a big business deal, because everybody is trying to take a bite out of the corpse...)

If we continue like this in the US, "they" have won.

cyril kearney

 6:05 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

In the United States the constitution guarantees Freedom of Speech. Guarantees are not required for things we agree with. The laws are in place to guarantee all speech even things that are unpopular.

This is where the difficulty comes in. There is also a long history of including advertisements under the definition. How do you expect to curtail an emailer from mailing to you without infringing on HIS rights? How do you write a law that will be constitutional?

The anti-spammers keep beating there chest and damning spam. They need to pause and focus on the problem. There are rights on both sides. Laws can not be written if the premise is that each individual can decide what is acceptable to him. A definition of acceptable and unacceptable behavior must be developed that is consistent with the constitution. Once that exists laws can be written.

The facts of life is that the vast majority of the bulk emailers are mailing outside the jurisdiction of the United States. The state of the art right now is mail filters if you care to use them. I use hotmail and they get about 80% to 85% of the spam and dump it into the junk mail folder. I am sure that other systems are doing as well.

The dangers of eroding Free Speech are of much more concern than my having to delete a half dozen viagra, and body part enlargement emails each day. My economic concerns of curtailing business on the Internet outweigh my concerns that someone will fall for the Nigerian Bank Fraud scam.

cyril kearney

 6:16 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

I understand your point. It does cost money for a corporation to have to have to handle advertising. A corporation with 3000 people have the same problems with their phone system, traditional mail delivery system and faxes. I am suggesting that email is on a par with these other avenues of communications and need to be factored into the cost of doing business.

It is unreasonable to expect that society can exist as we know it if we stop all business related communication. The webmaster is looking at it from his perspective. Whoever manages the cost of the phone and fax systems have exactly the same problems. However they can't collect information on the content every call that would come into a company with 3000 phones. They supply the bandwidth that's needed and don't pile cost on cost trying to filter phone calls like webmaster try to do with email.

So I'm not saying you are wrong just that many companies are spending time tilting with windmills instead of focusing on core issues like enhancing customer service quality and responsiveness. Is your company with 3000 mailboxes spending as much money improving the things that make money?


 6:50 pm on Aug 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

It's not just about individuals coping with spam on a personal level. USCE is flooding corporate message servers and costing more every month in lost productivity. Businesses are looking for, and pressuring for, a resolution. Some are buying more sophisticated mail filtering applications, some are lobbying for legislation, and so on.

But the fact is major corporations have noticed that the spammers are hurting their wallets - and they want that fixed. It will probably take both public and private sector action, and certainly some international cooperation.

I hope the balance leans more on the private sector solutions, but I have my doubts that it will. The issue is just too big.

One idea I read recently was intriguing - a "validation bureau" for ISPs that worked somewhat like MAPS, but with a reversed logic. People would be able to accept email ONLY from sources that were positively approved by this one, big, monolithic bureau. With MAPS, you need to have a complaint to get banned. With this idea, you need to be approved to get your email received at all. Your ISP could block all "non-approved" sources, period.

I can't find the article right now, but it said that someone is giving this a go. If it take off, it would be like needing a license to send email, and being able to have that license revoked if you violated the terms.


 2:31 am on Aug 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

From Cyril: "...How do you expect to curtail an emailer from mailing to you without infringing on HIS rights?..."

To me this is not about setting laws that forbid emailing advertisements, however offensive I may find them. Rather, it is about setting rules of conduct, and equally important, empowering recipients to block whatever they want, whenever they want.

The first part can be accomplished by licensing bulk emailing privileges, and in addition, charging for every email after a certain number. Let's say that number is somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000 per month / bulk email account. After that, pay 1 cent each to the servers that have to relay it in transit. If it goes through 5 servers, then it cost the sender a nickel to get from their machine to me.

We recipients can be empowered largely through technology. Every email program should have a built in capability to easily check the headers only of every message in an account, so that the spam can be deleted prior to downloading. The filtering programs MailWasher and EmC do this now - Outlook, Eudora, and every other email program need to include it too, and make it easy to use. Press a button ==> there are the messages ==> check boxes for those to be deleted ==> click a button ==> spam gone ==> download what is important.

In addition, we need to be able to set filters for our account *at the server itself* to bounce back any emails that are picked up as objectional. So those messages do not even get into the inbox. The email arrives at the inbox ==> the filter rejects it ==> spam gone. All of that is software/hardware fixes.

Finally, as I mentioned in an earlier post, any licensed bulk emailer that fails to remove someone from their list immediately upon request (let's say within 48 hours) must be subject to a stiff fine, and if necessary, the revoking of their license. That fine is automatically levied if the person's name is sold, traded, or given to any other bulk emailer for any reason. All of those fines should be high enough to pay for the bureacracy necessary to regulate all this.

I am not so naive as to think this would stop the problem, but it would be some first steps to bringing it under control, which to me is nothing but good news.

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