Weeding Out Spam

Like weeds, spam just keeps coming back. But new legislation, better anti-spam programs, and good behavior can help.• The Supreme Court's Library Rule

With the summer upon us, I cant help but see the parallels between the weed problem that plagues those of us with lawns and the spam problem. I keep trying new solutions, from pulling them out to spraying them with a variety of weed killers, but they keep coming back. Like spam, weeds are just impossible to escape.

There is no magic bullet, but I am hopeful that we can reduce the amount of unsolicited e-mail through a combination of legislation, better software, and changes in behavior. Congress is currently debating several bills, with CAN-SPAM (S 877) in the Senate and RID Spam (H.R. 2214) in the House having the most support.

Both bills call for e-mail mass-marketers to label their messages as marketing, use valid return addresses, and enable consumers to opt out of additional messages by taking their names off mailing lists. The House version would let state and federal officials and ISPs sue spammers, while the Senate version would impose fines for sending unsolicited e-mail to people who have opted out. Other bills call for the Federal Trade Commission to set up a Do Not Spam list, similar to its Do Not Call list, or for rewarding people who report spammers to the FTC.