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Internet Safety


United States set to Legalize Spamming on January 1, 2004

Against the advice of all anti-spam organizations, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the CAN-SPAM Act, a bill backed overwhelmingly by spammers and dubbed the "YOU-CAN-SPAM" Act because it legalizes spamming instead of banning it. Spam King Alan Ralsky told reporters the passage of the House bill "made my day". Spammers say they will now pour money into installations of new spam servers to heavily ramp up their outgoing spam volumes "all legally".

CAN-SPAM is expected to pass the Senate next week and be signed into law by President Bush on January 1, just in time to kill off California's strong anti-spam law which would have come into effect on January 1 making spamming illegal in California. With the passage of CAN-SPAM, spamming will be officially legal throughout the United States, CAN-SPAM says that 23 million U.S. businesses can all begin spamming all U.S. email addresses as long as they give users a way to opt-out, which users can do by following the instructions of each spammer. Anyone with any sense would of course realize that if CAN-SPAM becomes law, opting out of spammers lists will very likely become the main daytime activity for most U.S. email users in 2004. The second main activity will be sorting through mailboxes crammed with 'legal' spam every few minutes to see if there's any email amongst the spam.

If CAN-SPAM becomes law, from January Europe and the United States will have opposing legislation, as Europe has already introduced legislation making spamming illegal. But 90% of Europe's spam problem originates in the United States where spamming will now be legal, therefore Europe can expect the levels of incoming spam from the United States to more than double during 2004 as U.S. spammers ramp up their output under America's new YOU-CAN-SPAM law.

What this will do for relations between Europe and the United States, is easy to predict with millions of European Internet users already angry at being deluged in American "make-penis-fast" spam. From December 11, spamming will be illegal in the UK, but with 90% of the UK's spam problem originating in the United States, British users will continue to be flooded, now with 'legal' spam from the U.S.

Some spammers are claiming that CAN-SPAM not only allows them to spam legally but that it protects them further by also making it illegal for anti-spam systems to block their spam. In fact, while CAN-SPAM is an abysmally poor law, at least it does have some parts which attempt to address the issue of blocking spam, specifically it states that the law does not impact an ISP's ability to determine and enforce its own policies for transmission of email (i.e: through the use of blocklists or whatever means the ISP likes). This means that spammers cannot sue ISPs for blocking the mail they send claiming that the ISP must accept and deliver it based on the Federal law.

The fact CAN-SPAM makes illegal the use of open proxies or any form of resource misappropriation as well as use of false headers, specifically impacts spammers such as Michigan's Alan Ralsky, as all of Ralsky's spam is sent out with false headers, all through stolen open proxies. So CAN-SPAM does at least give us the law we need to put Ralsky and most of the ROKSO spammers in jail.

To avoid jail, spammers will have to spam from their own resources, readily identifiable IP addresses, rather than steal 3rd party relays and proxies. The problem there, which from January will affect all U.S-based spammers, is that their IPs are constantly listed on the SBL ("Spamhaus Block List"), Spamhaus' free anti-spam system used by ISPs throughout the Internet to reject incoming spam from known spam sources. Therefore one effect of CAN-SPAM we will notice, is that CAN-SPAM will channel spammers straight into Spamhaus' filter which means that in 2004 our SBL system is going to be in even greater demand.

The Spamhaus Project

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