Feb 1 2005

Doing its Part

Doing its Part

Fred had a good posting on spam today, riffing on a New York Times article that  is very “doom and gloom” on spam and how it’s taking over the world.  I’ll buy the Times’ argument that there’s an increasing amount of spam out there these days, but as with Fred, I still maintain, as I did in this earlier posting, that we’re out of crisis mode and are on the path to resolution as improved filtering technology and false-positive identification services trickle down to broader usage.

What I think is interesting, though is the amount of criticism that the CAN-SPAM legislation is getting, including in this article from the Times.  It’s not a perfect law — what law, exactly, is perfect? — but it’s starting to do its part.  People in the industry joke that CAN-SPAM means “you can spam,” meaning that the law makes it easier for people to spam legally.

But the reality is that you can’t regulate something until you’ve legalized it, and CAN-SPAM is a good first step in the process.  In the Times article is yet another example of how the legislation is starting to work — Microsoft’s latest law suit (one of many filed by Microsoft and others in the past 12 months) against a known spammer.

No one ever said solving the spam problem was going to be easy.  And no one ever thought there would be any silver bullet — certainly not a legislative one!  But I argue that CAN-SPAM is doing its part through the enforcement mechanism if nothing else.  And while I certainly hope the next step in the legislation around spam IS NOT a do-not email list, I do hope that there is a successor piece of legislation after another 6-12 months of observing the spam situation and the impact, strengths, and weaknesses of CAN-SPAM.

In the meantime, let’s use the tools at our disposal and keep suing spammers…as well as working on industry-based solutions to spam that bring the problem further under control, from filters to authentication to reputation to accreditation.