.COMmentary: Who likes Spam?

.COMmentary: Who likes Spam?

By Mike Lotz

Who likes Spam?

By Mike Lotz

I despise “unsolicited bulk, commercial e-mail” (commonly known as spam) as much as the next guy. I’m in favor of any workable solution that could slow the flow of ground-floor business opportunities, porn-site promotions and weight-loss secrets in my e-mail in-box.

Congress might have found a new way to deal with spam. The Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act of 2000 has made it farther along in the federal legislative process than previous attempts, having won full approval from the U.S. House of Representatives in July.

Many lawmakers and others see a real need for new laws to address the negative effects spam has been having on ISPs (Internet Service Providers), businesses and individuals. Surely such a law would help. But the lack of anti-spam laws does not mean that nothing can or is being done about this real problem.

For example, it may already be illegal to send spam with false headers (invalid e-mail address). The tactic allows spammers to avoid the avalanche of negative feedback. The proposed federal law would make it a crime to send spam without “a valid e-mail address.” But using an invalid address can already get you into trouble.

Earlier this year, a federal judge found that a spammer infringed on America Online’s trademark when he forged “aol.com” in the header of 73 million e-mail messages he sent for his adult website. The judge recommended that the spammer pay damages of more than $1.5 million.

Let’s face it, most “legitimate” businesses are not sending unsolicited e-mail to thousands or millions of people in hopes that even a tiny percentage will respond favorably. Instead, spammers consist largely of those trying to sell shoddy goods and false promises.

Many ISPs expressly prohibit their users from sending spam; ISPs which rely on the satisfaction of their customers and the performance of their servers, are not shy to pursue those who breach such contracts.

Of course, trademark, advertising and contract laws are not strong enough to stop the most clever spammers—but neither would a federal anti-spam law.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at questions@iwebwerks.com.

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