January 16, 2004


Posted by shonk at 04:08 PM in Politics | TrackBack

ibergus is confused (or at least claims to be; I have my doubts):

Congress crowed about cleaning up our in-boxes with the passage of an antispam law last year, but brace yourself: Some of this year’s unsolicited e-mail may feature the latest news from your congressional representatives.

Members of Congress are increasingly using e-mail to communicate with their constituents. They are aided by several companies that have developed ways to provide politicians with extensive e-mail addresses of those they hope to reach.

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidates have already plunged into e-mail marketing, relying on online promotions and e-mail solicitations in their campaigns.

Read the full article for more, but the main point is obvious and unsurprising: legislators care about the sanctity of your inbox only when it helps them get votes. The corollary, of course, is that when violating the sanctity of your inbox might yield more votes, well, you better hope your Bayesian filter is functioning properly.

The fact of the matter, though, is that high-profile Democrats aren’t the only spammers uninhibited by the CAN-SPAM legislation: “Less than 1 percent of spam e-mail sent to U.S. inboxes this month complies with a national antispam law that went into effect January 1, according to two spam filtering vendors.” In fact, spam is still on the rise. The usual suspects like CAUCE are bleating about a need for enforcement, that the law will only have an effect once people start getting arrested. Maybe so, but even at that, as CAUCE president John Mozena notes, the law will, at best, change only the content of spam, not the amount of it:

“The pornographers, the herbal Viagra merchants, the relatives of dead Nigerian dictators — it may get rid of them,” he said. “But the legitimate marketers now have a federally mandated stamp of approval. They can send each of us as much e-mail as they want until they’re asked to stop.”

Now, as I’m sure you all know, I’m practically the acme of discretion and good manners, but even I can’t help but point out that I predicted all this :

That, of course, is a debatable point, but what’s not debatable is that this new law [CAN-SPAM], once it’s signed into law by GW in December, will not end or even seriously curtail spam. I mean, the DMCA’s been around for a while and, last I checked, Kazaa wasn’t going anywhere (or, if it is, it’s because of competition from iTunes and Napster, not due to the DMCA). Instead, the solution to spam can only come from people changing the way they read e-mail in a way that makes spamming more costly than it is remunerative.

(incidentally, on the Kazaa point in the above quote, apparently the RIAA’s heavy-handed lawsuits were discouraging filesharing for a while, but the effect was, as one would expect, short-lived)