Re: Spam

Michael S. Lorrey (
Fri, 05 Feb 1999 14:29:12 -0500 wrote:

> Michael S. Lorrey [] wrote:
> Geez, this anti-spam meme virus sure is virulent.
> >I don't know if you are purposely being ignorant or not.
> See why I'm so amused by your comments? You guys bring up laws when you
> don't even know what the laws say. The law was passed well before
> widespread caller ID, and the law forced everyone to put a phone number
> on a fax. The law which Netsurfer said had nothing to do with anonymity
> *banned anonymous faxes*. And you call me ignorant.

Yes, placing a phone number in the header of the fax message was required, and that it be the originating phone number. Putting a false number is wire fraud. Now we get to issues of enforcement. It doesn't matter if its market based or government based. How to find the guy who actually sent it? Unless the individual was in your local calling area before the 1960's or 70's (depending on where you are in the country), it was a long distance call. Since faxes did not become cheap and affordable peices of equipment till the 80's we can pretty much rule out that there aren't some records as to where the call came from, so even though caller ID technology was not available to consumers until the early 90's, the data acquisition and extraction technologies, and the system databases they interface with which Caller ID is based on have been in the system for decades, and precede the anti-fax-spam legal history.

> >Your error in logic is to assume that anonymous mailers might be
> >financially
> >dependent upon the spammer customer base.
> See, you don't even have a clue about what anonymous remailers are or how
> they work. Anonymous remailers take an incoming message, decrypt it, and
> send it on. They don't charge -- though at some point, if you anti-spam
> folks don't get them banned -- they probably will do. They have no way of
> telling whether a message is spam, and they don't care. They don't censor
> because it's not their job to do so.

Some do, some don't. If they are doing it for fun and don't care about the content, then they are colluders as much as Nazi party members were during the Holocaust. You can legally be an accessory to a crime without knowledge that a crime is being perpetrated. This is accepted legal doctrine, because so much political and corporate espionage, as well as subversive and terrorist activity takes place in systems organized as cell systems.

> >If this is true, and they see nothing
> >wrong with that, then they are colluders,
> OK, MIKE? Do you get it now?

Yes I get it, and I was aware of it. However, as I pointed out above, ignorance of criminal activity which you willfully enable does not absolve you of guilt if your actions contributed to a crime. Ignorance is a mitigating circumstance, granted, but it is not absolution. You can still be nailed on conspiracy as well as negligence charges. If you knew you were operating in a state of negligence then the ante can be upped...

> They get an encrypted message, they decrypt
> it, and pass it on. The outgoing message may well be encrypted, the
> incoming message may well have come from another remailer. The only
> way they can stop spam is to read every outgoing message, decide whether
> it may be spam according to the recipients subjective perception, and then
> decide whether to pass it on. If the message is encrypted, they're screwed.
> So any such law will kill the anonymity that some of us have fought so
> hard to create. It will kill secure encryption, because no ISP will want
> to let users send out messages which might be spam and with which they
> might be considered to be 'colluding'.
> And all for the sake of 'protecting' you from having to press the delete
> key.

Not necessarily. A mailer only needs to check that the incoming mail has header information which is authentic, then decrypt the message, and ensure that the decrypted message header has authentic header information in it. It can all still be anonymous AND authenticated at the same time. You can deny it all you want, but if this were not possible, then anonymous digital cash should not be possible either. Since it is, then this scheme is.

> > so screw them.
> "We've gotta destroy freedom in order to save it".

> >I can still be pro market and pro freedom while being anti-spammer.
> You can... but only by arguing for free-market solutions rather than
> arguing for the government's right to censor the Net.

You haven't read a damn thing I have said, have you!!????? I have repeatedly said I prefer a market solution, but I also acknowledge that there are existing legal remedies for people to pursue without the need for any new laws. Do YOU get it?

> >Its your
> >stuborn refusal to promote market base solutions or to even acknowledge
> >that
> >spam is a problem that is preventing you from dealing with reality.
> The free-market solutions are so obvious and widespread that I hardly
> consider it a point worth discussing. You filter, you charge for email
> from unknown email addresses, you bounce email which isn't signed by
> a known sender, etc, etc. There are a thousand solutions for individual
> users, that's the glory of the free market.

If there are a thousand solutions, why have I, who spends a majority of my day on the web, only heard of a few? If there are so many solutions, why have the major browser/mail software makers not incorporated a single one in their applications (outside of preventing me from changing my reply-to and from info so that my email address cannot be so easily stripped)? If there are so many solutions, why are there none integrated into the most widely used mail server software programs? It is because most of the solutions are either not consistent, too easy to get around, take too much work on the part of the user to administer, rely on technology not currently available, or are too difficult for the average garage ISP startup guy to set up to function reliably on his servers.

Now, I do not advocate in any way the use of the government to pass new laws to give enforcement agencies the ability to go after them (especially when most if not all of the necessary laws already exist). I myself am pursuing a civil action, which is consistent with libertarian PPL theory.

BTW, the DMA's lobbying on spam laws is almost entirely a matter of the battle over 'opt-in' versus 'opt-out' systems. The current state of enforcement is as if it were an 'opt-out' system, where you have to go and tell the DMA or others that you want to be on the remove list (and the DMA is pretty good about enforcing the proper use of their REMOVE list). Like any tool, when used improperly, it is dangerous. The majority of spam abuse is not commited by DMA members (and they don't remain members long if they do), but they do not give their remove list out to non-members. Members that abuse their remove list wind up with stiff penalties and can be nailed on intellectual property violations for using the list outside the boundaries of the license agreement.

So on the matter of removes, do NOT hit a remove link on a spam message, but do sign up on as many of the reputable remove list brokers as possible. They guard their lists closely and prosecute abuses as a matter of guarding their reputation. As I said, I have used several of these and now only receive spam from sources that also spam the extropians list. I would prefer that the extropians list archive not display the email addresses of the people who posted to the list, as this is a major source of data for the data miners that supply raw lists to fly-by-night spammers.

The anti-spam lobbyists are trying to make it an 'opt-in' system, where a person has to specifically agree to receive commercial solicitations via email, everything else being illegal.

I have tried to change my reply-to and from entries in my email browser so that dataminers cannot strip a correct email address off of them, but it will not let me make it a "mike-at-lorrey-dot-com", or any variation thereof (ostensibly to prevent me from sending fraudulent header information, ha!). So unless I adopt the kind of email tools that spammers use, I cannot protect my address from the fly-by-nighters.

> What's the problem? Ignore spam and people will come up with technical
> solutions to it. Impose some supposed solution with laws and we'll be
> stuck with it for decades, and with the loss of freedom.

Solutions do not occur in a free market unless the market has indicated that it has a need to be solved. Ignoring spam prevents that need signal from being sufficiently broadcast across the market.

> Meanwhile, as Lee pointed out, the spammers are working to get pro-spam
> laws passed... and they have a lot more money than you do.

They would not need to pass new laws to protect themselves if it were not already within the letter of the law to prosecute them now for what they are doing. The laws exist, and imply that 'opt-in' should be the standard according to the letter of the law, so we do not need new ones. Its like all the new anti-gun proposals: how can we expect new gun laws to work if the old ones are not being enforced?

You talk grandly about maintaining 1st Amendment rights, and the privacy rights of emailers, etc. However, you ignore the fact that when someone violates a law or another person's rights, they are signaling that because they do not value their vicitms rights, their own rights are forfeit. Spammer lose their speech and privacy rights when they violate the property and privacy rights of others. You can speak all you want. I can't be forced to listen, and you will pay for wasting my time....

Mike Lorrey