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How Will Laws Against Spam Work?

By Gerry Patterson

The Australian Department of Communications IT and the Arts has unwisely decided to outlaw spam, and so far there do not seem to be many dissenting voices. Sentiment against spam is almost universal. Although I have also on numerous occasions voiced anti-spam sentiment, I consider that laws against spam will not work. Worst of all they may even be counter productive.


There ought to be a law against it ...

Ed: This article was published in September 2003, Since then another article entitled The Spam Tide Rises, published in January 2005, examines just how effective anti-spam legislation has been. The following article is presented here in its' entirety as originally published. Some of the references are dated. But by and large it has stood the test of time.

Despite the widespread hostility towards spam and the apparent support for anti-spam laws, legislation will not work. Not only will the laws fail to prevent spam, they will have many undesirable consequences, including a possible increase in criminal activities associated with spam and a wide-spread disrespect for the law. The following is some of the many reasons that will render anti-spam legislation unable to address the complex problem of spam.