What to do about spam in general? Use reader-oriented tools.

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Article URL: http://www.toad.com/grokmail/antispam.html Comments URL: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28636189 Points: 1 # Comments: 0
To: declan@well.com, gnu Subject: What to do about spam in general? Use reader-oriented tools. Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002 15:23:03 -0800 From: John Gilmore It may be stupid for politicians to send spam, because it is unpopular, but is it illegal? In California, it is only illegal to send unsolicited *advertisements*. Political speech, including requests for votes, would not seem to fall into that category. And if you have ever voted for a Democratic candidate, or talked with a Democratic politician, you have had prior contact with the Democratic party, so a message sent by them isn't unsolicited, by the legal definition (in California Business & Professions code section 17538.4). EFF has long advised against anti-spam laws, partly because state after state makes the same kind of mistakes. What is objectionable about "spam" is that it is uninteresting to the recipient and sent in bulk. Whether it is an ad, a plea for charitable donations, a call for political action, a request for votes, a patriotic declaration during a national emergency, or an incomprehensible rant, people don't want to see it in their mailbox. That doesn't mean it should be a crime or a tort to send it. Furthermore, singling out particular categories of messages BASED ON THEIR CONTENT is far more likely to be unconstitutional, yet the laws invariably distinguish ads from other bulk messages. These laws also bring up harsh jurisdictional issues: if California can legitimately impose rules on what everyone in the country or world can send to Californians, then Bolivia or Palestine or France can do the same to American email senders -- of all kinds of email, not just bulk mail. And if California can't impose local rules on non-locals, then those who want to evade the local rules will simply send their messages from another jurisdiction. The part that virtually nobody understands is that spam isn't going to go away. It's like the drug war -- the more you ratchet up the penalties against innocent people,…
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