But what about a law like the one in Danville, Pennsylvania that mandates all fire hydrants be checked one hour before all fires? The intent of the law is well-meaning; they want to make sure that the fire hydrants will work so firefighters can quickly extinguish the blaze. But good intentions aside, the law is still useless.
California also has a new anti-spam law where the aim is to make commercial emails more traceable and transparent. The law will apply to any business based in the United States that sends email to residents of California.
Like the Pennsylvania fire hydrant law, you can appreciate the fact that someone is trying the make things better but you really have to question whether or not a law with no teeth is really the best way to fight spam.
Exportation of spam
According to reports, the top spam sending countries of 2012 so far have been India, sending 20 percent of all spam messages, followed by Indonesia with 13 percent, South Korea coming in third with 12 percent, and finally Russia who is responsible for 10 percent of all spam messages sent in the first quarter of this year.
With so much spam originating in foreign countries, do we really expect the California Highway Patrol or the Canadian Mounties to pack up and start busting spammers overseas?
Even if the rest of the spam messages sent originated in the United States or Canada where offenders could face legal action, that still leaves more than half (55 percent) of all spam to slip through the cracks of justice.
Just who are the real spammers?
Another flaw with these anti-spam laws lies in the fact that most spammers send these messages out unknowingly.
For years, the United States led the way as the number one originator of spam. It wasn’t that spammers flocked here seeking refuge, it was because so many computers in the US were zombies that sent thousands of spam messages out on the orders of their command and control servers.
So now the nice little old lady who bought a computer so she can video chat with her grandkids and email her friends and family, needs to worry about having her door kicked down and being slapped with monetary fines should her computer be hijacked and send a spam message to an irate resident of California? While a scenario like this may seem a bit overdramatic, it only matches the pulpit beating drama of these anti-spam laws.
If governments were serious about fighting spam they would approach things a bit differently. First off, both the United States and Canada have anti-spam legislation in place to keep legitimate businesses honest. The CAN-SPAM act and the CASL both keep businesses under their jurisdictions from cutting corners and email blasting people at will.
Secondly, they would do something that is much harder to do at a federal level – educate their constituents.
There are so many community based workshops and classes available but rarely do you see anything that teaches people about cyber crime. You would think that something teaching residents how to avoid being a victim might be a class to add.
The individual can do their part as well. Using common sense when it comes to giving up your email address is a start. Simply don’t provide your email address to businesses so freely and don’t be so comfortable posting it online for everyone to see.
The war on spam is not going to be won through over legislation. We only stand a chance if we take away the resources spammers use. When the money dries up and the email lists are stale; when their armies of zombies are struggling to stay alive, that is when we can claim we struck a blow against spam.
Not when we sign our next piece of legislation.