October 23, 2003

Antispam Bill Passes Senate Approval

CNET News reports the unanimous approval of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, S. 877 with 97-0 votes in the Senate, which leaves the House of Representatives to hammer out their differences. The CNET article gives the highlights and examples of how the bill applies to and criminalizes certain spamming techniques.

While I applaud the Senate's action, in all practicality this can only be marginally effective at best. My opinion is that this will probably be the "feel good legislation" of the year. The FCC Do Not Call Registry has a much better chance at curbing telemarketers than any antispam legislation will have on spam. The simple reason is that spam is much more of a global problem. Spammers are also much more adept at trickery and covering their tracks than telemarketers, simply because the internet technology is more advanced, and prone to abuse.

In addition, the FCC Do Not Call Registry and separate state "do not call" laws are driving the blocked telemarketers over to spamming techniques to make up for the lost call opportunities. Thus U.S.-based legislation alone cannot be effective globally. Now, a world treaty coupled with advanced spam origination discovery tools might make a larger bite, but still wouldn't be as effective as desired. The problem is that spammers are teaming up with hackers and together they will stay at least a step ahead of the game for the forseeable future.

Again, I heartily applaud the Senate's approval, but I'm not even cautiously optimistic about its ultimate effect at curbing spam. I certainly hope I'm mistaken in this, but in my humble opinion, self-help and anti-spam/prevention education is going to make more of an immediate impact on a particular person's or organization's spam situation. Only we can prevent spam, by what we do and don't do online and even offline, such as in answering telephone questions and filling out application forms with e-mail addresses.

Topic(s):   Privacy & Security
Posted by Jeff Beard