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Why isn't spamming illegal?

  1. Jul 27, 2008 #1
    Is there some obstacles why using e-mail for commercial advertising couldn't be made illegal? I see the problem is international, but couldn't any individual nation make sending ads from their country illegal? Why couldn't governments of different nations get together, and set up some plan on how spamming would be made illegal everywhere?

    Surely more than 99% of people would prefer spamming being illegal?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 27, 2008 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    I disagree most strongly. I will fight for other people's freedom of speech with the same vigor that I fight for my own, because it is inevitable that curtailing one person's freedom will eventually come around with unintended consequences to limit my own. If today you give the government the permission to prevent someone else's free speech simply because you find it annoying then you had better hope that you never want to say something that might annoy someone else because then you will already have given them the legal justification to silence you.

    So you don't like spam, that's what the delete key is for. They have the freedom to send you spam and you have the freedom to ignore it.
  4. Jul 27, 2008 #3
    The amount of spam can get out of control. It could be you get some much spam that you inbox gets full and then you don't receive important mails. Then your "freedom of ignoring spam" is equivalent to an "unavoidable need of constantly being deleting spam".

    But okey... if the first response was a disagreement, then my 99% guess could be wrong.... :cry:

    For heaven's sake, isn't it clear that the spam is 100% enemy of society? The society doesn't benefit from spam in any way. There is small elite of spammers who make money and make life of other people more difficult. It satisfies criteria for being declared to be criminal, if lawmakers would choose to declare so.
  5. Jul 27, 2008 #4
    I hate these freedom of speech arguments. Perhaps I should start testing the limits of the freedom of speech by "speaking with a handgun"?
  6. Jul 27, 2008 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    My approach is to set up a free e-mail account specifically for giving out to businesses and receiving spam (hence my handle DaleSpam). I give that out to any business where I need to register an e-mail address and I almost never check it. I never give out my personal e-mail addresses to businesses, just friends and family.

    It really works effectively, and doesn't require any government involvement.

    Then perhaps you shouldn't propose restricting other people's free speech.
  7. Jul 27, 2008 #6
    Freedom of speech is not a universal tool to allow anything.

    If somebody speaks words out of his mouth, we consider this speaking.

    If somebody writes articles to a popular magazine, we consider this speaking, (in the sense that freedom of speech applies).

    If somebody uses a computer program to gather hundreds of thousands of email addresses, and then uses a computer program to send unsolicited computer generated messages to all of them, is this considered speaking?

    If it is somebody's opinion, that some person needs to get a bullet through his head, and then uses a handgun to speak out his opinion, is this considered speaking?

    The truth is that we will need to draw a line somewhere.

    You have your own idea of where to draw the line, but some other guy might have a different idea of where to draw the line. You should not try to make it appear as if you are the one defending the freedom of speech, while the other guy would be attacking the freedom of speech, because the truth is, that you merely have a different idea of where to draw the line.
  8. Jul 27, 2008 #7


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    It is illegal to send spam in or from the Netherlands, it is part of the telecommunication law. I think the same holds true for the whole of Europe, we use opt-in while the US uses opt-out to manage the flow of information. Of course it only works when all countries cooperate, since I still get loads of spam.

    I don't really see what spamming has to do with freedom of speech, the law does not target a specific group or opinion.
  9. Jul 27, 2008 #8
    I see spamming as no different than someone driving by my house every day and throwing out fistfuls of junk mail into my yard. It's not free speech, it's littering. Unless I sign up for it, I don't want it. A few years ago I had a problem with a couple of advertising companies throwing trash in my yard expecting me to read the crap. I got so tired if having to deal with it that I threatened to sue. After fighting for a month I finally go them to stop.
  10. Jul 27, 2008 #9


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    Recently there was a news article that the fugitive 'Spam king' Edward Davidson commited murder and suicide, after escaping out of jail. He was sentenced 21 months in jail for sending unsolicited (e-?)mail, from which he earned millions. This happened in the US, how do you explain the jail sentence?
  11. Jul 27, 2008 #10
    Very interesting information. According to the Wikipedia there is spam originating from Europe, anyway, so it doesn't seem to be controlled, whatever the legislature is. France, Germany and Great Britain are being mentioned in the top 12 list. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_(electronic)
  12. Jul 27, 2008 #11


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    But if other countries around the world don't classify spam as illegal, then how would spam originating in Europe and being sent to, say, America be stopped? I imagine that spam from one European country to another would be policed more.
  13. Jul 27, 2008 #12
    There should be something like the National Do Not Call Registry for e-mails. Spammers have no right to distribute advertisements in a private venue like e-mail just like telemarketers have no right to call you during dinner and ask you to buy something. There are a lot of good appropriate places for advertisement these days so I think they are simply being abusive by using e-mail as well.

    There are even rules against vendors coming to your house to sell something if you post up a sign forbidding them. And just like a phoneline, someones inbox is an electronic receiving center associated specifically with that individual.

    The issue is really whether these spammers have the right to waste the time of massive numbers of people at the click of a mouse solely for the interest of business. A pure capitalist would say "of course they do" but the brand of capitalism used in the United States is not pure and for good reason IMO. We give the government the authority to regulate the marketplace to ensure fairness, optimal productivity, economic stability, etc.

    Allowing the spammers to distribute mass e-mails instantaneously at no cost to themselves and interrupt the daily routine of thousands or hundreds of thousands of other people in order to make a pitch that 99.99% of them don't care at all about is an example of abusive and unfair and underhanded business practice. It is unfair because it puts the business people who actually respect other peoples time at a disadvantage.

    Furthermore, allowing spammers to waste my time by regularly sending mass e-mails undermines the efficiency of the communication system which is something all of society should be interested in protecting.

    For these reasons, the US should regulate it just like it regulates the quality of meat products.
  14. Jul 27, 2008 #13


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    From what year are those numbers? I know that in the Netherlands they are actively enforcing the law.

    From the European Commission website, look on the second page:
  15. Jul 27, 2008 #14
  16. Jul 27, 2008 #15
    According to the Wikipedia, Edward Davidson violated the CAN-SPAM Act, but on the other hand, according to the Wikipedia, CAN-SPAM Act has been criticized for not really working, although on the other hand... it seemingly worked very well on Davidson :confused:
  17. Jul 27, 2008 #16


    Staff: Mentor

    Certainly. Advertising is most definitely a constitutionally-protected form of speech.

    I politely ignored this comment the first time, but now it seems like you were seriously comparing murder and free-speech. That is a truly moronic argument: I think spam is protected as free speech therefore I support murder.

    Yes, and the courts have already placed many limits on freedom of speech. The courts have generally done a good job of keeping speech one of the most well-protected freedoms that we enjoy.

    That sounds like a good idea to me. I also think there should be a similar registry for paper junk-mail. They have the right to speak and we have the right to ignore them.

    There is one huge difference. There is no constitutional right to sell bad meat, so regulations on meat are generally constitutional. But there is a constitutional right to free speech, so regulations there are generally unconstitutional.
  18. Jul 27, 2008 #17
    That was not my argument.
  19. Jul 27, 2008 #18


    Staff: Mentor

    Then maybe you can clarify without any hyperbole, because that is exactly the way it came across to me.
  20. Jul 27, 2008 #19


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    Great idea, we need a nationwide list of e-mail addresses available to spammers just so they know who uh... not to spam.
  21. Jul 27, 2008 #20
    So they know who to not spam in order to avoid prosecution.
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