Business & Finance
01:32 PM
Connect Directly

Spam Nation

It's a [bad] part of our everyday lives. Who's behind this stuff?

Of course, it's possible to disagree about whether permission was given to receive messages. Many of those who believe they've been spammed, Richter says, received the unwanted E-mail as a result of their own actions, such as registering for prizes at Web sites.

Steve Linford, director of the anti-spam site Spamhaus, disputes Richter's characterization. "Unfortunately, all spammers refer to themselves as legit E-mail marketers, since to them spamming is perfectly legitimate E-mail marketing," he says. Richter points to the lack of legal action against his company as proof that he's operating appropriately.

While courts will increasingly be asked to separate spammers from E-mail marketers, there's a chorus of skepticism about the impact of new laws.

Atkins sees the cost of enforcement as a problem. "Most of the spam out there breaks existing consumer-protection, criminal, or fraud laws," she says, echoing similar concerns voiced by ePrivacyGroup's Everett-Church. "But spammers are hard to prosecute. They hide, they lie, they cheat, and it costs a lot of money to track them down and build a case against them. That is money a lot of states don't have."

Richter concurs. "The people who these laws are supposed to be trying to attack, they're not going to be affected," he says. "The guy overseas isn't affected."

Still, with spam threatening to become the majority of all E-mail traffic, we haven't seen the last of high-profile prosecutions. And that how-to book the California duo was peddling had best include a chapter on how not to end up in court.

Illustration by Peter Horvath

Continue to sidebar: State Affairs: Filters Conflict With Government Openness

4 of 4
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.