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Deep pockets

August 25th, 2004

I was checking my MT Activity logs, and was stunned to see how much comment spam I’m blocking with MT Blacklist. This got me thinking about spam in general, and led me to this article in the Kansas City Star which details the activity of a spammer selling various kinds of insurance. The money quote (literally) is

Completed forms, in turn, are sold to agents of legitimate companies, such as IndyMac Bank, ADT Security and MEGA Life and Health Insurance. The agents say they pay $3 to $7 for each referral. (emphasis added)

I can’t see anything legitimate about a company that employs criminal methods in its business, while pretending to be at arms length from the whole thing. It seems pretty clear that the way to make this kind of spam uneconomical is to make the employers of spammers liable for civil action. While I think estimates of $2000/employee, mentioned in the story, are over the top, the economic damage done by spammers is immense – more than enough to put firms like those mentioned[1] out of business if they were forced to bear their share of the bill.

Of course, this wouldn’t work so well against the purveyors of generic viagra, penis enlargement and so on, where the businesses are just as fly-by-night as the spammers. But every little helps.

UpdateCoincidentally, the NYT reports that dozens of spammers have been charged with a variety of offences

fn1. I’ve emailed one of them (IndyMac Bank) to see if they have a response to the KC Star story. If I get one, I’ll report it.

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  1. Peter Murphy
    August 25th, 2004 at 14:29 | #1

    It’s worse in the United States, where there’s going to be about 1.25 billion political spams until November. Their federal Can-Span act is pretty flawed:

    In fact, the federal Can-Spam Act outlaws only unsolicited commercial e-mail, not e-mail sent by political candidates or groups. Thus, even if the e-mail recipient did not give his congressman or an environmental nonprofit express permission to communicate with him via e-mail, that unsolicited e-mail is legal.

    I hope there are wise people whispering into Howard’s and Latahm’s ears: “Don’t go there.” I admit I’m an absolutist in the matter: no spam and never. But it goes beyond free-speech: the Internet backbones have a limited capacity in GB/s . Spam is damagine the commons.

  2. September 9th, 2004 at 12:37 | #2

    Feet food might came cheap prescriptions, fine comes feet quick.

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