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Bulk unsolicited email

Eventually, spam will be a legal problem. Our notions had better be ones that the legal system will support. The courts tend to frown on things that look like the government regulating speech: to say that it is *commercial* speech that we want regulated could run afoul of that. (OTOH, the courts have *also* tended to treat commercial speech as less privileged than other forms of speech....) Anyway, we need to focus on the two factors that are relevant:

*bulk* e-mail. Whatever we may think about the content, one's and two's of e-mail just aren't anything more than annoyances, if they're even that -- they're just the price of having a mailbox: sometimes you'll just have to cope with mail you don't want. Thus one requisite for censure is that the mailer does *bulk* mailing.

However, that's not enough. The net is about communication -- and people will regulate their own reception of mail, one way or another, *provided* that they're given the opportunity. *Unsolicited* e-mail bypasses the opportunity and bulk unsolicited e-mail has the real capacity of making people's use of e-mail impossibly expensive, in terms of money and time.

Thus, I would say, that we must focus on *bulk* *unsolicited* e-mailing; other factors, such as content, are secondary.

And, just to point out that the flyer analogy is not irrelevant, do we *really* want to, by restricting ourselves to *commercial* mail, effectively sanction the Crusader spammage? Or the rape and snuff spammage? Or, what happens when the Church of Scientology decides to exploit that medium....?


T. William Wells