Thursday, April 14, 2005

A Spam Conviction

The Christian Science Monitor has an article on the latest conviction for spam. Link.
From here, Jeremy Jaynes, a Raleigh businessman who rose to No. 8 on a list of "spam kingpins," broke the nation's toughest spam law by churning out more than 100,000 unsolicited e-mails a month. In fact, he was moving closer to 10 million a day. He was sentenced late last week in Leesburg, Va., to the stiffest penalty ever given to a spammer: Nine years in a state prison.

In part, it underscores Americans' changing attitudes about the sanctity of the inbox. And even as the unsolicited e-mail flows on, experts say the case sends a potent message to would-be Internet solicitors: We know where you live. (...)

Still, the junk keeps coming. In 2001, only 8 percent of e-mail was junk; today, that number hovers near 75 percent, and could jump to 95 percent, thanks to new methods where "spam gangs" hijack servers to churn out huge amounts of e-mail at one time.

On the one hand, it is hard to support a law that makes it a crime to communicate with someone. On the other hand, the volume of unwanted commercial e-mails is so huge that it has become a public nuisance. Ultimately, I think the solution will be technological, i.e., effective spam filters, rather than criminal prosecutions. Yet, as reluctant as I am to admit it, perhaps there is a place for criminal laws for those who are able to get around the best available filters and make our lives miserable.


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