I can't tell you how many bogus Facebook phishing e-mails I've deleted this week. That's apparently part of a massive bot attack designed to steal users' Facebook credentials, probably in order to run more Nigerian 419 scams.
The problem? When the U.S. Congress did finally get around to passing a law against spam -- the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003 (aka the CAN SPAM Act) -- it was so toothless they needed polygrip to keep it in place. Direct marketers who saw the future in electronic junk mail lobbied hard against giving the law real bite, so Congress spent more time coming up with a cute acronym than it did creating a law that would actually deter or punish spammers. Meanwhile, tougher state laws (like Virginia's) have been overturned due to First Amendment conflicts.
Back in 2003, spam constituted roughly half the e-mail sent over the Net. According to Symantec, it's now up to 86 percent.
So how's that law working for y'all?
It happened again this week. Notorious junk e-mail king Spamford Wallace just got a $711 million judgment against him for abusing Facebook and violating the CAN SPAM Act. They might as well have made it $711 trillion. He's not going to pay it. The man has had at least two other multi-million-dollar judgments against him, and it hasn't done diddly. The handful of other "spam kings" who've been nabbed has done nothing to deter the rest either.
Why does this matter? Because spam is more than merely an annoyance. It's like a gateway drug (no pun intended) to all the harder stuff that slimes up the Internet: identity theft, malware infestations, fake pharmaceutical sales, and so on. You name it; if it's online and ugly, odds are it started in an e-mail (or, now, a tweet).
We are long overdue for some kind of actual spam solution, whether it's a more secure e-mail protocol or stiffer penalties. Personally, I'd start by sentencing spammers to some quality time in a maximum security cell with an ex-biker named "Tiny." How about you?
What would you do to fix the spam problem? Weigh in below or e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org.