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Supreme Court Lets Virginia Anti-Spam Law Die

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the escaping-from-the-can dept.

Spam 77

SpuriousLogic sends in a CNN report that begins "The Supreme Court has passed up a chance to examine how far states can go to restrict unsolicited e-mails in efforts to block spammers from bombarding computer users. The high court without comment Monday rejected Virginia's appeal to keep its Computer Crimes Act in place. It was one of the toughest laws of its kind in the nation, the only one to ban noncommercial — as well as commercial — spam e-mail to consumers in that state. The justices' refusal to intervene also means the conviction of prolific commercial spammer Jeremy Jaynes will not be reinstated." Jaynes remains behind bars because of a federal securities fraud conviction unrelated to the matter of spamming.

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Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (5, Informative)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27399503)

The SCOTUS does not take every case that crosses its path. These days, unless there is an important Constitutional interpretation at stake, the Court will typically pass on the case.

Since there really isn't much new in this case (the FA already forbids restriction on TFOS), it's hardly surprising that the SCROTUS decided to let precedent do its job.

No one likes spammers, but this law was clearly in violation of the civil rights of everyone it touched.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (1)

boombaard (1001577) | more than 5 years ago | (#27399639)

Regardless, one wonders why it is so hard to think up a law that effectively blocks spam (with the intent to deceive people into either buying shit, or paying for stuff that isn't actually being sold, etc.) while not also apparently blocking the right for political candidates/parties to "inform" you of the fact that they're running for some sort of office (or similar).
Not that I'd be any more interested in hearing what said politician or party wants to tell me any more than I'm interested in viagra ads, but hey..

Anyway, is the lack of legislation a competency issue, or is it due to politicians just not caring, or protecting some sort of interest? (which seems unlikely)
It seems sort of odd that there still isn't any legislation that forbids this nonsense, or requires opt-in lists, or something.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (3, Interesting)

bloodninja (1291306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27399929)

Israel handled it by making mails advertising a paid service without prior communication illegal. As politicians are not advertising a service that the email receiver directly pays for, it is legal. This past election, I actually abstained from voting because the party that I intended to vote for sent me spam.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27399975)

This past election, I actually abstained from voting because the party that I intended to vote for sent me spam.

That's funny, I withdrew my support from the Working Families Party [workingfamiliesparty.org] because they cold-called me in Spanish. In the 607 area code [wikipedia.org] . Not exactly an area known for having tons of non-English speakers.

Mind you, I was drifting out of their political orbit anyway, but you morons can't even figure your computer dialer appropriately for the areas that it's calling? That's just annoying.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400023)

Sounds like you're nitpicking. They made a mistake - we all do that sometimes. Just inform the caller of the mistake and be done with it, without making it into a big issue. (i.e. Stop making a mountain out of a molehill.)

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (2, Interesting)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400101)

That's not picking nits, IMO.

I get unsolicited Mexican spam several times a week. I speak just enough to know that it's a scam service offering to extend my car's warranty.

I also notice that when I go to the store, almost every single label has both English and Mexican* on it even though as of now the Hispanic population is only about 15% of the over-all US population. (source: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/011910.html [census.gov] )

I wouldn't move to Italy and expect them to have every label in English, (hell, maybe they do, but I doubt it) I'd expect to learn the language of the country I'm living in, not create my own culture and ignore the language of the country I'm in. I know this sounds xenophobic, and some mod's probably going to call this flamebait but it's not intended to be, merely my observations, having lived in and around Hispanic population centers for much of my life. (San Diego, NM, Texas, and now Northern VA)

*I call it Mexican because it isn't Spanish. "Spain" Spanish and Mexican "Spanish" are not the same, and while the root structure is the same, the slang and many of the verbs are not.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (4, Informative)

Hozza (1073224) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400179)

I wouldn't move to Italy and expect them to have every label in English, (hell, maybe they do, but I doubt it)

Actually, its extremely common to find packaging with multiple languages in Europe. Many will be bilingual and some are even quadlingual.

The business logic is nothing to do with %'s of populations, its all about the flexibility of being able to ship the product to different countries, depending on where there's demand this week.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (2, Insightful)

MatthewCCNA (1405885) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400641)

Canadian packages are required to be in both French and English, which is funny because less people in Ontario speak French as a first language than Mandarin. I wish it was left up the the business to decide which which languages to include.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27402313)

The multi-langauge package labeling in Europe has nothing to do with the local spoken languages, but that it makes it easier and cheaper to make packages for shipping to the different countries in Europe and for tourist shopping.

As an Scandinavian living in USA, it isn't expect by me that everyone around me learn my native language, but that I at least make an effort (I'm still learning) to speak the language used where I live. I agree with original poster. Mexicans should at least do an effort to learn English in USA. The more it is given in on labeling everything, just because a larger Mexican population is living there, makes it harder for them to integrate.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27405307)

Actually, its extremely common to find packaging with multiple languages in Europe. Many will be bilingual and some are even quadlingual.

If not more than that. Depending on the product you're looking at (that is, depending on how widely it's marketed/sold), even having labels in ten languages isn't entirely uncommon.

Just go to Germany some day and take a close look at a Mars bar wrapper or so. You'll be surprised.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 5 years ago | (#27401881)

In many parts of the US, you find fewer Mexicans but more Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and other latino populations. The language is Spanish, but there are dialects. Just as Louisiana French and Quebecois French and Parisian French are dialects.

The fact that we see two and three languages on products owes at least as much to NAFTA as to who buys what. Making one package design that serves a whole continent saves the company some money.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27402059)

>>>I get unsolicited Mexican spam several times a week

We were discussing a phone call from a politician. Your example, although entertaining, is non-relevant to phonecalls from political parties. In that case, a volunteer made a bad assumption that the homeowner was Spanish. The simple solution would have been to say, "Sorry I only speak English," to the political volunteer rather than throw a temper tantrum about it, and refuse to vote for said party. (Again: Don't make a mountain out of a molehill.) Refusing to vote because of that trivial thing is childish IMHO.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#27402693)

Oh I'm sorry, Officer ThreadKeeper. I'll make sure to not respond with my off-topic comments to your off-topic thread.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 5 years ago | (#27402491)

I'm not worried about Mexicans coming to the US and not learning English. In a lot of communities they can get by without knowing English. I think learning English would definitely behoove them, but by no means should it be required.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#27402805)

I'm not saying it should be required, just that I don't understand the complete lack of desire to learn the language spoken by the great majority of people in the country you live in.

I understand that "keeping your heritage and cultural roots" alive is a very good thing, but I also think that there should be at least a few concessions made, in many cases, learning the local language should be one of them.

The strange thing to me, though, is that by and large, hispanic people work their asses off in order to provide for their families, enjoy things/ideals they were not as easily able to get in their own country (otherwise I doubt they'd move here) and are, in almost every case, very good citizens for the US. So it puzzles me as to why learning the English language is not considered important by many. It seems to me that if you have a decent understanding of English then you can go much farther than someone who doesn't. (I'm referring to business wrt the last paragraph)

All completely IMO, of course.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (2, Interesting)

fugue (4373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27403207)

*I call it Mexican because it isn't Spanish. "Spain" Spanish and Mexican "Spanish" are not the same, and while the root structure is the same, the slang and many of the verbs are not.

I'm with you so far... and I even agree with your post. But:

I also notice that when I go to the store, almost every single label has both English and Mexican*

If you won't dignify the Mexican language with the name "Spanish", how can you call what USA-blokes speak "English?

That's not picking nits, IMO.

But I am :)

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#27403561)

touché teacher, touché.

Language names (1)

pluther (647209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27404327)

...almost every single label has both English and Mexican...

I call it Mexican because it isn't Spanish. "Spain" Spanish and Mexican "Spanish" are not the same, and while the root structure is the same, the slang and many of the verbs are not.

If that was the real reason, then how come you don't call the language you write in "American"?

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400235)

Well, like I said, I was drifting out of their political orbit anyway. And there wasn't a caller to inform -- it was a recording. Which brings me back to the bit about properly configuring your computer dialer....

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27402121)

Yeah well, your complaint reminds me of my grumpy old grandpa. He complains about the most trivial shit. Whats the point of being alive if you're always bitching and a miserable old bastard?

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27402305)

Wow, tell me what you really think :)

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27407637)

I agree. Why make it into a big issue? Just track down the major spammers and cave their faces in with rock hammers just like the Russian mafia did with that one guy. The world would be a better place.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (3, Funny)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400143)

> politicians are not advertising a service that the email receiver directly pays for

Tell that to Blagojevich ... ;)

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400671)

Israel handled it by making mails advertising a paid service without prior communication illegal.

Sensible.

That puts me in mind of the fact that even though Israel is the darling of so-called "conservatives" in the US, it is also every bit as "socialist" as any country in Western or Central Europe. You never hear the same kind of scorn and derision that you hear leveled against countries like Sweden, Denmark or (gasp) France.

It's a shame that hubris prevents the US from trying to learn from any other nation in the world.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 5 years ago | (#27411805)

This past election, I actually abstained from voting because the party that I intended to vote for sent me spam.

So... you subjugated your right to vote because of the actions of another person? Odd. It seems to me the exchange was unbalanced: your politician lost 1 vote, whereas you lost your civil right.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400613)

one wonders why it is so hard to think up a law that effectively blocks spam

I've got this one.

It's because in this system, if there's any possibility that an activity, no matter how repulsive and destructive, could someday be used to put a nickel in the pocket of big corporations, that activity will never become illegal without sufficient safeguards in place to protect the God-given right of the Lords of Profit to benefit.

This is why we still have copyright laws. You didn't think it was to protect creative people, did you?

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27399785)

it's hardly surprising that the SCROTUS decided to let precedent do its job.

Freudian slit?

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27401805)

A Freudian slip is when you say one thing, but mean your mother.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (3, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400577)

it's hardly surprising that the SCROTUS decided to let precedent do its job.

Well, that's what we elected the precedent to do.

Re:Supreme Court doesn't rule on everything (1)

TheoMurpse (729043) | more than 5 years ago | (#27404187)

These days, unless there is an important Constitutional interpretation at stake, the Court will typically pass on the case.

Not true. Let's just look at the opinions issued today [scotusblog.com] .

  • Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs [scotuswiki.com] , Issue: Whether a 1993 congressional resolution requires Hawaii to reach a political settlement with native Hawaiians before transferring some 1.2 million acres of state land.
  • Rivera v. Illinois [scotuswiki.com] , Issue: Whether the erroneous denial of a criminal defendantâ(TM)s preemptory challenge that resulted in the challenged juror being seated requires automatic reversal of a conviction.
  • Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Williams [scotuswiki.com] , Issue: Whether the Supreme Court of Oregon, on remand from the Courtâ(TM)s 2007 decision on the constitutionality of a $79.5 million punitive damages award based on harms done to non-named plaintiffs, improperly asserted a state law procedural bar having the effect of precluding Phillip Morris from asserting a constitutional claim.

Now, it is entirely possible that by "important Constitutional interpretation," you meant "issue that touches on the Constitution." However, that would be so broad as to be meaningless. Everything that may be tried in federal court touches on the Constitution in some way, even in mere diversity cases. It would be like stating that "these days, all cases before the Supreme Court involve some legal controversy."

So I'm assuming you mean that the core issues are about interpreting some provision about the Constitution.

The three links above are decent evidence against your assertion.

I believe in Freedom from SPAM (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27399537)

I believe in freedom. As an American and a citizen of America, a land that was birthed in the patriotic defense of freedom, freedom is important to me and my wonderful family and our church and community. That is why I believe, like millions of other Americans, and the great majority of Italians, in Freedom. But when a malicious band of radical Italians, who curse our freedom and want their countrymen to not have the freedoms that America gave them, use the blessings and liberties of our freedoms to attack Freedom, I say this means war. If these Italo-extremists attack with spams on our computer networks and internet, then I will stand shoulder to shoulder with patriotic defenders of our homeland and our freedom-loving Italian allies until the false friends of the Italian people, the freedom-haters are defeated. Sometimes we will have to sacrifice some temporary freedoms in the defense of the greater freedom and the responsibility of freedom and the responsibility to responsibly exercise that freedom, that comes with being a free American (as opposed to a Mexican or something of that sort). GOD bless you all and good morning. We will prevail.

Re:I believe in Freedom from SPAM (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27399623)

If I had mod points, I'd mod you Insightful instead of Funny (the way you're modded at the time of my post).

Re:I believe in Freedom from SPAM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27399801)

What's interesting it seems to me something like that actually would be a speech from a public figure in the US. Just replace Italians with Africans... or is it Muslims now.

Re:I believe in Freedom from SPAM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27400087)

I'm sure I've heard this before. Somewhere.

Re:I believe in Freedom from SPAM (2, Insightful)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400127)

Fox News?

Re:I believe in Freedom from SPAM (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400725)

One is surprised that the few "good" Italians don't stand up against the outrages of these extremists.

I understand there are Italian "camps" all over the US, training their young people to hate our freedom.

I saw a few of these types over on Taylor Street the other day in front of Johnny's Italian Beef. Dressed in their native Members Only jackets with their shiny, greasy headwear.

One asked me "What the fuck you lookin' at, jagoff?"

Clearly, they hate freedom.

Re:I believe in Freedom from SPAM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27402757)

If they respected freedom they would speak American. They are always saying things like "mammamia" and "inboccallupo" which in Italian culture is a sign of submission to their god and a pledge of holy war against "infidels" (Americans).

Re:I believe in Freedom from SPAM (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 5 years ago | (#27402543)

I think you are talking about Sicirians?

Cue the form (3, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27399611)

Your post advocates a...

Re:Cue the form (4, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400283)

Your post advocates a...

Your post advocates a

( ) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante (X) form-based

approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
( ) Users of email will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business
(X) The meme is tired and worn out and I'm just as likely to get a -1 troll as a +5 funny.

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
( ) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
(X) Asshats
( ) Jurisdictional problems
( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
( ) Extreme profitability of spam
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

(X) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( ) Blacklists suck
( ) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
( ) Sending email should be free
( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatibility with open source or open source licenses
( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government reading my email
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

(X) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!

Re:Cue the form (1)

palmersperry (242842) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400455)

The problem with the form is that it's based on the very USA/UK way of thinking that something must either be 100% of the solution or is useless with no middle ground possible. Whereas real life(TM) tends to be more granular in nature.

Re:Cue the form (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27401329)

The problem with the form is that it's based on the very USA/UK way of thinking that something must either be 100% of the solution or is useless with no middle ground possible.

Don't blame the form. Spam is way too much adaptible. They can operate from hijacked computers, you know.

The form just points that out. If you come up with a solution that passes the form test, you'll be rich.

Also, consider the fact that partial solutions have already been applied, and only worked until they noticed.

Re:Cue the form (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27411099)

I originally wrote that "technical/legislative/market-based/vigilante" form back in 2004. I'm too lazy to dig up the link but it was basically a spoof of one that Hardy used for Fermat's Last Theorem.

I agree with you that real life will involve a continuous struggle with spam, but the same can't be said for most of the convenient little solutions people come up with for it, and those are what the form is meant to dispense with. The whole point of it was to demonstrate the conspicuous, continued absence of any single obvious solution.

Responding the appeal (4, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#27399635)

"Sir, the Supreme Court rejected our appeal to keep the antispam law."

"Did they state a reason for the rejection?"

"Yes, we apparently need a much larger voting base. They offered to provide us with the necessary means to enlarge our voting base in weeks."

e-mail is just too cheap to send (2, Funny)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400039)

Sorry folks I know most here just don't want to hear this, but it's the only solution that will eventually work: require the sender to pay a very small amount per e-mail sent. For instance, 1 cent of a $ or EUR per e-mail, plus 1 cent per every MB of e-mail size. I would be more than happy to pay this modest sum.

This could (and should) be implemented on a recepient-level: there should be e-mail service provider companies that will require this payment for e-mails sent to their customers. This way, no change to any protocol or standard is required for this to work. Also, withing companies ("intranets"), this fee would be waived, so that mass mailings would be still possible for company announcements etc.

While 1 cent/email is completely immaterial for any normal user out there, it will deter the prolific spammer (including the Nigerian ones).

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27400119)

Sorry, I know you probably don't want to hear this, but you don't really know what you're talking about.

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (3, Insightful)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400145)

Go look up http://craphound.com/spamsolutions.txt [craphound.com] . Fill it in for yourself, please, with particular attention to the existence of botnets (which steal email services from zombied machines worldwide), non-profit spam (which will get away with it free as they do under the CAN-SPAM act), and the difficulties of micropayments (handling many thousands of small transactions is extremely expensive when you start handling real money).

In other words, it will hurt legitimate email far, far, far more than spam, which will simply steal the service from others. Or do you somehow think that you personally will magically profit from this one?

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (2, Interesting)

esme (17526) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400675)

We've all seen that "fixing the spam problem is impossible" form letter. In fact, I think I've even posted it here on slashdot and probably on usenet back in the day.

But I think parent is basically correct: the only practical way to end spam is to make it unprofitable. Ending the rewards for spamming is truly impossible. Criminalizing it is possible, but ineffective. Filtering hides the problem but doesn't fix it. Technical solutions will at best result in an arms race, because there is so much money at stake. Increasing the cost of sending spam is the only way.

The the problem is figuring out how to make spammers pay without destroying email as a communications tool in the process.

Having every email cost a cent (given to the recipient) will go a long way. Micropayments won't be needed because the transactions are already intermediated by ISPs, so they can handle the payment differences amongst themselves in bulk, and then charge their customers accordingly.

Most senders of email will send and receive roughly the same amount of email, so they will not be affected much. They will get a quota from their ISPs, and if they send a lot more than they receive, they will have to pay for it. In an ideal world, people would be cut off after they hit their quota, so if they were zombied, they wouldn't rack up thousands of dollars in email sending fees. I would hope that getting cut off from sending email for the rest of the month would help motivate people to clean up their PCs, too.

Bulk emailers (newsletters, confirmation emails, etc.) will need a separate system. Some of them can simply pay for it (I'm sure Amazon can simply charge you an extra five cents to pay for the confirmation emails they send you). Maybe others can require return confirmation, or even pre-confirmation. If they don't get an email from you, you don't get emailed your newsletter, etc.

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (1)

TimTucker (982832) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400999)

But I think parent is basically correct: the only practical way to end spam is to make it unprofitable. Having every email cost a cent (given to the recipient) will go a long way.

So all I need to do to get rich is to have a botnet of infected pcs start sending me massive amounts of spam? Where do I sign up?

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#27407879)

No, no. Most advocates of this don't want anyone to receive the money but themselves. You, as a recipient, get nothing.

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27401129)

Micropayments won't be needed because the transactions are already intermediated by ISPs,

Have you heard of a rather popular facility called 'webmail'? You know, the one where you have no required financial relationship with the mail service provider? Which people tend to use instead of their ISP's email because they can take it with them if they change ISP?

Consider this quote from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credit_card#Costs_to_merchants [wikipedia.org]

Merchants are charged many fees for the privilege of accepting credit cards. The merchant may be charged a discount rate of 1%-3%+ of each transaction obtained through a credit card. Usually, the merchant will also pay a flat per-item charge of $0.05 - $0.50 for each transaction. Thus in some instances of very low value transactions, use of credit cards may actually cause the merchant to lose money on the transaction.

Debit cards are even worse - no % charge but a higher transaction charge.

Of course, if you think it's reasonable to sacrifice the convienience of webmail to fight spam, that's fair enough, but I don't think you'll find that's a popular view.

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27403001)

Micropayments won't be needed because the transactions are already intermediated by ISPs,

Have you heard of a rather popular facility called 'webmail'? You know, the one where you have no required financial relationship with the mail service provider? Which people tend to use instead of their ISP's email because they can take it with them if they change ISP?

Yes, I have heard of that. Did you know yuou can actually pay money to many web mail providers for additional services like no advertising and pop/imap access? If only you could pay an extra $10 for 10,000 unapproved emails...

Seriously, add a button next to reply that says "refund and reply" to give the originator their $0.01 back and then the webmail places and work it out in bulk themselves. Hell Microsoft already has an xbox live point system with millions of microtransactions going on. Make sending spam cost 1 point. No account? Bounce it saying how to get one.

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27400821)

That's easily solved:

Lets put sales tax on the rental of botnets. And then a botowner tax! That should teach the bastards!

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (4, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400171)

Incredible! You've solved spam.

Where thousands of security experts have failed, you alone have come up with the magic bullet.

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27402129)

Nah, I bought it on ebay. [google.ca]

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (2, Funny)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27405435)

Incredible! You've solved spam.

Where thousands of security experts have failed, you alone have come up with the magic bullet.

Maybe that's the advantage of the idea: it came from someone who doesn't know that "it can't be done". It's called naive creativity.

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (3, Insightful)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400221)

I can't tell... are you joking or not?

What about people on mailing lists? Is your Slashdot account set to e-mail you when someone replies to a comment you made? How many Slashdotters are there? 1.5 million now or something? You expect them to dish out like $15,000 (if everyone had it enabled), and that's only per-reply, per-comment... would end up being in the hundreds of thousands a day...

But I suppose now you'd want to create a registry or something, white and blacklists, that's ok, I'm sure all these service providers would just love to do that for every damn company, organization and website, around the world, they live for that shit.

Who gets to decide who's on which list? Obviously, this needs federal regulation now, now this costs them money, that's ok... they can just raise the cost... lets say 10 cents, that seems fair... but wait, they still want more money, but they can't raise the initial price... I know, they could add an e-mail tax onto internet accounts... ...

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400293)

Ok, well to be fare, there is like an average of 150 comments per-story, and like 30 stories a day or something, so it's only about $45...

But Slashdot isn't exactly huge, there are larger things like social networking that have tens of millions of active people a day, and numerous notifications. It could be argued that they should conglomerate their messages, but a lot of people don't want that, that's why stuff like Twitter, and texting is so popular.

Naturally the business will want to create a compensation, and I can't think of one that doesn't end up being more spam-type bullshit, or everything becoming paid memberships.

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (1)

gleffler (540281) | more than 5 years ago | (#27401629)

You could work around this by generating some sort of really long hash of a secret cookie and the sending domain name, then providing that hash to the sending website. When sending mail, the sender could send it to you at youraddress+hash@yourisp.com -- Your ISP would then know that you'd granted that site permission to mail you for free and wouldn't charge them.

Ideally, you'd be able to go to a page on your ISP's site and revoke these revocations for free mail at some point if the site started abusing the privilege.

Alternately, you could just enter a list of domain names from which you'll accept mail without charge - combine this with SPF and you'd be a fair bit of the way there.

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27407421)

All of that would depend on people not being stupid. We still live in a world where somebody who specifically signed up for a newsletter/mailing list/what have you from a legitimate company but decided they no longer want it hit the "Mark as spam" button instead of using the unsubscribe link. Not to mention it being ripe for abuse. Sign up for something from a company you don't like, give them cost-free email, revoke privilege for "abuse."

It's also dependent on there being a universal system in use for such a thing, with a universal ability to query the users' whitelists. Companies would go apeshit if they had absolutely no way of knowing if they're going to get drilled for every email their system sends to a user--even if the user specifically requested them and there's an easy way to turn it off--and rightly so. If we're going to undertake that kind of alteration to our email infrastructure, there's a lot of other pressing issues we may as well take care of first (or instead), not the least of which is ending unauthenticated emails and any type of header forging.

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27405311)

No, I am not joking. I did not exclude the existence of normal e-mail accounts. You can receive e-mails from mailing lists and such, on your normal e-mail account. You'll also get some spam. But you can have an e-mail account that requires the 1c/email payment, and that one will not be used for mailing lists, obviously.

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27400249)

Your post advocates a

(X) technical (X) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
(X) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
(X) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
( ) Users of email will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
(X) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
(X) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
(X) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
(X) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
(X) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
(X) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
(X) Asshats
(X) Jurisdictional problems
(X) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
(X) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
(X) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
(X) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
(X) Extreme profitability of spam
(X) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
(X) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
(X) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

(X) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( ) Blacklists suck
(X) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
(X) Sending email should be free
(X) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government reading my email
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

(X) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
house down!

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (1)

highfidelitychris (1448915) | more than 5 years ago | (#27402149)

This works right up until someone figures out how to send them for free. And then all I've got is a smaller bank account and an inbox with the same amount of spam.

Re:e-mail is just too cheap to send (1)

Sylver Dragon (445237) | more than 5 years ago | (#27403593)

Er, do you even know how email works? With the Post Office there is a central authority through whom all mail moves. Charging delivery fees is easy because that central authority can simply refuse to deliver if the fee is not paid. Email does not work this way.

If I send you an email, my server contacts your server directly, yes it passes over the ISP's wires, and they may be able to figure out that it's an email, but this is far from certain. At best, they could monitor and charge for all traffic on port 25. Even this plan has holes in it which you could fly a planet through.

The first problem is that people won't want to start paying for email. Assuming we get around that by telling them tough shit, live with it; work will start immediately on work arounds. Let's face it, there are a lot of smart people out there who are willing to break such a system, just to save a few bucks. So, I give it about two days before someone releases a communications system which circumvents port 25 monitoring.

To show how simple such a workaround would be: On an email server, I have a web server running as well. When someone wants to send me an email, they connect to the webserver and receive a ticket. That ticket has a port number and a random password. Once a ticket has been claimed once, the webserver generates a new one. Once the sender has a ticket they connect to the receiving server on the specified port send the specified password and then send their email. Voila, port 25 monitoring circumvented. While I'm sure that this scheme has lots of problems, I doubt that they are insurmountable and this was just the circumvention method I thought up in a few minutes, there will be thousands of people far smarter than me with days and days to come up with something better.

The second problem is the ever popular asshat who will fuck with people just because he can. If the charge is applied based on traffic on port 25, I won't even give it a day before we see the first virus in the wild which just spews out data on port 25. Hell, it would almost be funny to see a virus which tries to steal one's identity and then phones home on port 25, just for that extra little, "fuck you."

Sorry, but charging for email is a stillborn solution. It's unworkable. It requires either a major overhaul of how email works (for example, some sort of email distribution centralization, which I am sure various police states would love) or that we put legislation in place to kill innovation.

For whatever reason.... (2, Interesting)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400055)

...the Virginia General Assembly didn't take this up during its session this year (runs Jan through early March-ish).

There wasn't anything preventing them from amending the law so it complied with the court ruling. They didn't do that.

Maybe they were waiting for the appeals to be fleshed out. Or maybe it was more important to ban smoking in restaurants to please Governor Timmah. And put in prayer in schools. And strengthen the drunk driving laws. And take up the state song issue again, and....

Not sure.

It might be onn tap for next year. But I'm not so hopeful. The Virginia politicians, with the exception of Rick Boucher (who is starting to waver in his party's mantra of hopeychange), who spearheaded smart Internet laws are gone.

So, with that, hope those of you who voted for the new crew like spam, and taxes on every single thing you purchase on the net.

Nearly Everything You Wrote is Wrong (2, Informative)

waldoj (8229) | more than 5 years ago | (#27403177)

There's so much about what you wrote that is simply wrong. Let's run down the list.

1. Rick Boucher isn't a member of the Virginia General Assembly, he's a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

2. There was never a heyday of Virginia politicians who spearheaded smart internet laws. You can tell because, if there had been, then we'd have smart internet laws. The closest that we ever got was Gov. Jim Gilmore, who created the Secretary of Technology cabinet position and created those asinine "@" internet license plates. Oh, and he required censorware on all school computers. That was the high point for Virginia.

3. You speak of the legislature as a single unit, wondering why "they" did something or "they" didn't do something. It's made up of 140 members, each of whom is free to introduce legislation on a given topic. Do you live in Virginia? Did you ask your legislator to introduce such a bill? Nothing is "on tap for next year," because it's not possible. It's not possible to prefile a bill until summer, some months after the veto session. If you have an idea for a better UCE ban, I wish you'd write up a proposal to share with the legislature.

4. In fact, two bills were introduced into the Virginia General Assembly to deal with UCE, both by Del. Manoli Loupassi (R-Richmond). HB1796: Unsolicited bulk electronic mail; penalty [richmondsunlight.com] and Unsolicited bulk electronic mail (spam); penalty. (HB1797) [richmondsunlight.com] . The former was killed in a Senate Committee for Courts of Justice subcommittee, the latter was killed in a House Courts of Justice subcommittee.

Re:Nearly Everything You Wrote is Wrong (1)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 5 years ago | (#27406491)

1. Rick Boucher isn't a member of the Virginia General Assembly, he's a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Re-read the parent. I didn't limit my statement to the GA, now did I?

2. There was never a heyday of Virginia politicians who spearheaded smart internet laws. You can tell because, if there had been, then we'd have smart internet laws. The closest that we ever got was Gov. Jim Gilmore, who created the Secretary of Technology cabinet position and created those asinine "@" internet license plates.

I was referring to Gilmore, Allen, and to a lesser extent Robb, all three of whom supported initiatives that made Virginia a place friendly to high tech companies.

Gilmore chaired a Congressional Advisory Committee on Internet commerce. Allen pushed that committee's recommendations, even against the wishes of some members of his party, as well as the Republican Governors' Association.

3. You speak of the legislature as a single unit, wondering why "they" did something or "they" didn't do something. It's made up of 140 members, each of whom is free to introduce legislation on a given topic.

Most of whom are blithering idiots, as they prove year after year.

Do you live in Virginia?

That I wrote the comment ought to tell you something...

Did you ask your legislator to introduce such a bill?

My delegate and state senator really have no use for me, just like my Congressman. They're free to ignore me and still win reelection. Hooray for gerrymandered districts. Let's just put it this way, I can't remember the last time a candidate I voted for won (McDonnell, maybe?).

4. In fact, two bills were introduced into the Virginia General Assembly to deal with UCE, both by Del. Manoli Loupassi (R-Richmond). HB1796: Unsolicited bulk electronic mail; penalty and Unsolicited bulk electronic mail (spam); penalty. (HB1797). The former was killed in a Senate Committee for Courts of Justice subcommittee, the latter was killed in a House Courts of Justice subcommittee.

The language is virtually identical to the bill the section of code declared unconstitutional. But your links don't give any information about why it was tabled.

Re:Nearly Everything You Wrote is Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27411413)

The language is virtually identical to the bill the section of code declared unconstitutional. But your links don't give any information about why it was tabled.

There isn't even any information in the General Assembly bill database about why it was tabled. All it shows is the vote count. 9-4 for HB1796 and 10-0 with 2 abstaining for HB 1797.

Anti-Spam (0)

interested pyro (1499899) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400199)

Heard on radio soon....:Supreme Court Lets Virginia Anti-Spam Law Die, Millions of spam boxes in emails are filled withing 24 hours! more news at 3. In other news, Homel Foods quietly stops selling a certain canned meat. seriously now, the SC can't "let" a law die unless they vote in a case against the law.

Netscape Mail? (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 5 years ago | (#27400911)

The image that accompanies the article is, if I am not mistaken, from the Netscape mail client from, oh, 1998.

Looks like CNN could stand to update their image database.

Just out of curiosity... (1)

jweller (926629) | more than 5 years ago | (#27401599)

..how much spam does everyone actually see?

I use gmail and I get very little spam that actually shows up in my inbox. I would say ~maybe~ 1 message a month at the absolute most. I also have a yahoo email that I use as a throw away account when I have to give an email. Even that one isn't tooo bad. Nothing ever shows up on my corporate email, but I know that one is heavily filtered.

I'm not saying spam isn't a problem on mail servers, but how much does it effect the average Joe?

Re:Just out of curiosity... (3, Insightful)

Phroggy (441) | more than 5 years ago | (#27402177)

That's exactly why the politicians don't take it seriously - the average Joe doesn't realize how vast (and expensive) a problem it is.

For awhile, my tiny little home server, only used by me and a few friends and family members, with just one domain name, was rejecting approximately one spam attempt every 45 seconds, on average. I don't know what the recent numbers are - after the McColo shutdown, there was a huge drop, and I haven't bothered to figure out the statistics recently.

But that's once every 45 seconds, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. On a tiny little home server. Now imagine how much money it costs Google to deal with spam on GMail....

Re:Just out of curiosity... (1)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 5 years ago | (#27402217)

I get absolutely none on my Gmail account.

On my Hotmail account, I get a couple of spams per month. Typically they're from friends of mine who sign up for crap like Myspace, automatically spamming me with invites.

UCTIA (1)

Benanov (583592) | more than 5 years ago | (#27401955)

Is this part of the UCTIA law or separate? They almost got my hopes up with this one.

The reason the court didn't take this up (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27402183)

SCOTUS did not grant certiorari (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Certiorari) Is one of evidence. The court may very well feel that this law should be upheld, but that the current case that is brought for cert involves an unconstitutional behaviour, a non-issue, or may lead to an undesirable counter-opinion. (http://books.google.com/books?id=eEoyK7ZCXjsC&pg=PA208&lpg=PA208&dq=why+the+supreme+court+motivation&source=bl&ots=MP2Trrpv9c&sig=B984XiR1TuBSlIliFnBy0e0n_zs&hl=en&ei=7C3SSfTJJIfmlQfhmdSXBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result)

In the initial conferences where the justices meet to grant cert, each justice votes on a case, and may have their own motivations for doing so. The outcome of these votes is generally sealed for a certain number of years - with the most recent release being the records of Justice White (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byron_White) who would diligently record each of the results of the cases - and in the instances that justices made an argument - grade the arguments of his fellow justices.

Related Stories (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#27403499)

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