Monday, July 5, 2010

Missouri To Tackle Spam

State legislators in Missouri are looking to pass a bill to make spam of a certain type (that which has a misleading subject) a felony, allowing prosecution of those sending from out of state.

"We would have the ability to go out of state and bring someone in,” Klahr said. “Obviously, until we pass this law, it will be hard to know if what they are doing is illegal or not, but we have some targets that we would like to follow through on.

”The only opposition to the bill in the hearing came from Michael Grote of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. He urged the panel to examine what constitutes a deceptive e-mail. His department, for example, sends out a weekly e-mail newsletter that does not contain the chamber’s name in its header.

“Even though it says Missouri Chamber of Commerce all over the body of the e-mail, we would be in violation because of that header information,” Grote said, “If those situations are resolved, which I think the sponsor is willing to do, that would change our position on the legislation.”

Ohio, Virginia and Maryland have passed similar legislation.

Three points come to mind:
1) The opposition raises an excellent point. While it is fantastic to try to stop spam, I am not sure how they are going to be able to word this so that it only focuses on spam and doesn't limit freedoms of people who are doing nothing wrong. While I doubt it would really limit freedoms, I think that it would be feasible to use any uncertainty to get spammers out of trouble when charges are brought forward. Which is pretty much where we stand as it is now.

2) The article mentions "AOL Lobbyists" and how they are saying the spam is out of control. While I completely agree that we should do all we can to limit/stop spam, I always cringe a bit when I see something is coming about due to lobbyists. That should always set off a flag to see how this would benefit the group lobbying in a monetary sense. If AOL wants this through, is it for the good of its members? For the reduced cost less spam would allow them? Or is there a way they would actively make more money because of this?

3) If spam is being sent from outside of the US, does this law help in any way? If someone spams you from China, does a law in Missouri make any difference to that person? Reverse the scenario - if someone in China gets spam from someone in Missouri, does the fact that China has a law which says they have the right to torture and kill that spammer mean that they can do that to the person? Granted they don't really have that sort of law that I know of, this is just an example, and also granted we would probably love to see that done to some spammers it seems - it is a sketchy area to have to be forced to follow the laws of other countries. I suppose it largely depends on our relations with that country and what extradition treaties we have signed.

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