Monday, April 20, 2009

Proposal: This House Will Legalize Spam

I sent this today to the newly formed debate mailing list. While this is not necessarily my opinion, I am picking a side and running with it.

In other words, the opinions presented in this debate are not necessarily my own. People will either support this proposition, or tear it apart.

Proposal: This House Will Legalize Spam

Spam is a service answering a demand. Making the product legal will will inject our suffering economy with much needed currency and allow our government to tax this billions of dollars industry.

We have seen this happening with alcohol during the prohibition. Alcohol is no longer illegal, and great benefits resulted from that decision with a booming world-wide industry and disappearance of the black market economy.

Spam is a black market economy. Medicine is sold for high prices in the US, so black market spam operations answered the demand and sell drugs from Canada for a lower price. Many of these are fake and result in poor care in the best of scenarios.

Economically, the pharmaceutical industry is suffering and the government is losing potential taxation revenue. More importantly, if spam was regulated controls could be put in place to protect public health.

We have been waging a "war on spam" for two decades now with no victory in sight. More than that, the email system is under continued threat of no longer being usable.

Similar misuses have been addressed by legalization in the past. This includes post spam and fax spam, which today have clear regulation.

Most of the email traffic on the Internet today is spam, resulting in:
1. Increased operational costs for networks and service providers.

2. Clogged mail boxes, user annoyance and legitimate email being lost, resulting in loss of productivity.

3. A support infrastructure for other criminal activity ranging from phishing to child pornography.

Our respected opposition may claim that legalizing spam will open the door for other sorts of legalization. We believe this claim is a logical fallacy, falsely claiming a slippery slope to muddy the waters.

We believe that taking this route on spam is positive, other directions with other "products" should be considered on their own merit. It is a fact that the end of prohibition did not result in legalization of drug usage.

In support of my case I bring before you a case study (below), written by me two years ago for a zdnet blog. I demonstrate how an unrelated legalization caused a large percentage of spam to stop and spam operations to collapse, when the demand ceased.

Gadi Evron,


Taking down spammers: Successful spam fighting via legalization, regulation and economics

Original URL:

By Gadi Evron

Working in the Israeli city of Netanya, next door to our offices was a spam operation with roughly 30 employees. One day they weren’t there anymore.

They were blog comment spammers, but officially were doing Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Instead of optimizing content, they posted illicit comments on many blogs with commercial or misleading messages leading to their clients’ web sites, mainly for the purpose of increasing their clients’ web sites visibility in search engines such as Google. They would do this using an illegal tool such as botnets, and make quite a bit of money.

The reason for their disappearance soon became clear; nearly all their clients were gone. A law was passed in the United States which addressed online gambling operations (”Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act” - UIGEA). As a result, the public gaming industry ceased accepting online wagers. More than that, UIGEA addressed processing payments to and from Internet gambling sites. In a day, most of US-based gambling web sites ceased to exist (others moved over-seas, although quite a bit of the world’s credit processing is done by US firms). This effectively caused
the death of numerous black hat SEO companies–comment spammers. Perhaps the UIGEA measure against processing of payments proved too difficult to overcome. Not being a lawyer I can’t say exactly how UIGEA caused this death. No matter, US online gambling operations were effectively destroyed.

Spam decreased. The underlying cause for that was that the clients weren’t there due to the inability to process payments because of the online Casinos law.


Follow me on twitter!

No comments: