Comments: Just some stuff

Just a technical note - spammers would not have to "hack into" a "do not send email" list. The list would be public - obviously. You can't make it illegal to send someone UCE (that's unsolicited commerical email) without also telling companies which email addresses are requesting a stop on UCE.

The point is, most companies that call you on the phone are law abiding, whereas most spammers are not law-abiding. Therefore a "do not call" list works - the assumption is that the companies making the calls, even when selling stupid or ridiculous products and services, fear the penalties of the law. The "do not call" list is made available to the public, you or I could get it with some effort, but making it public is thought to be safe.

But spammers tend to be lawbreakers - they often sell fraudlent mortgage services, or they sell pirate software, or they sell prescription drugs without a perscription, or they herbs of which they make claims that violate the FDA's interpretation of the 1994 DHSEA law. Therefore, if a list of email addresses were made public, it would be used to send those addresses more spam.

Public perception of spam lags behind reality. Although in the early days of the web spammers tended to be amatuers trying to make a buck, over the last 4 or 5 years spamming has more and more been taken over by organzied crime - much of it offshore. Therefore, for a wide variety of reasons, the law is not likely to be an effective tool against spam.

Posted by Lawrence Krubner at June 17, 2004 06:14 PM

But what is the point of sending such messages to people who have said they don't want them? It's not like you're going to sell products or services, especially fraudulent ones, to people who have publicly registered as spam-haters.

(FWIW, I added the bit about "hacking in" to the list myself. That isn't what the government said.)

Posted by Anne at June 18, 2004 11:33 AM