The anti-spam challenge

— 2:52 AM on October 25, 2002

Anti-spam laws exist in a number of US states, but as this Wired article reports, making a buck off an inbox filled with advertisements for herbal Viagra isn't easy.

"I wouldn’t recommend this as a way to make money, but if you’re interested in learning about the small claims court system, you could try it," said Bennett Haselton, a Washington resident who has filed at least 30 cases against spammers under a 4-year-old state anti-spam law.

Haselton said he's won 10 cases and collected about $2,000 from defendants. It's not a lot of money considering the effort required to pursue the cases, he said.

As satisfying as it is to see spammers writing cheques to those with the time and motivation to file claims, there has to be a better way. The amount of spam on the Internet is staggering, and even direct marketers are in favor of federal anti-spam legislation because of fears that spam will ruin email marketing completely.

Can anything be done, on a legislative level, to curb the incredible volume of unsolicited email and truly make spammers accountable? What about spam that originates from overseas? Are we doomed to use third party mail filtering software for eternity?

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