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Re: Proposed EU Directive on Electronic Commerce

  • To: Piet Beertema < >
    Beebit < >
  • From: Ragnar Lonn < >
  • Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 14:11:46 +0100 (MET)

On Fri, 15 Jan 1999, Piet Beertema wrote:

> I sense a truly immense lot of wishful thinking here.

Yeah well, dreaming hasn't yet been outlawed!

> easier and works with all user mailers. However, it's
> *not* up to ISP's to filter on Subject: lines! And you'd
> better not overestimate the capabilities of the average
> user: filtering on solely the *presence* of the string
> "UCE" is extremely risky, as you might well filter out
> regular mail too.

Of course the user would have to tell the ISP to filter his/her
mail based on the presence of the UCE-label. The filtering should
be done, if the subject line is used, not on just "UCE" but on a
more complex character sequence like e.g. "[UCE]" to avoid false
hits. The users would be made aware of how big the risk of false
hits is before they decide to allow the ISP to filter his/her mail.

> Second, the EC Directive by definition applies only to
> the EC [Member States]. But reality is that the vast
> majority of the spam comes from the USA, and users out
> there are in no way bound to some EC Directive.

That's right, but someone has to start. Nothing will ever happen
if states just shrug their shoulders and say "well, the EC/US
don't have the same regulations so there's no use implementing
them here".

> Third, spammers hide themselves and cover their tracks.
> No EC Directive is going to change that.

Having the law on your side will deter some and make it easier to
punish the rest.

> Fourth, spam will be around as long as people can make
> money out of it. And that includes ISP's.

Stating the obvious, but yes. I never said anything else.

> Fifth, when spammers would be allowed to identify their
> messages with "UCE" or some such, it would by definition
> become a marketing tool, and no longer be spam. Hence
> people would *have to* indicate whether or not they
> want to receive it. Which means that the filtering would
> have to be done by the user, *not* by his/her ISP: it
> might well even become illegal for the ISP to do such
> filtering! And that in turn means such "legal spam"
> messages would *have to* be delivered to each and every
> individual end user, so we would *not* get back the
> resources currently wasted on spam.
> Now, can we please get back to earth?

You mean get negative?  I think you're the one that went ballistic, 
if I'm to be honest.

What I tried to say, even if I failed to express myself, was that
an EC law enforcing a spam label that can be identified by machines
is a good step forward. If more nations, and namely the US, could
then be made to do the same thing, we'd have a powerful tool in
fighting spam. An EC law will make it easier for anti-spam activists
in the US to put pressure on US lawmakers to create something similar

It has the *potential* to reduce spam drastically. If the ISP implements
the customers' filters for them or not is completely irrelevant and 
something between the ISP and its customers. "being forced to
deliver 'legal' spam" is a really weird notion... The user pays
the ISP to deliver the user's mail. If the user wants UCE, the ISP
will have to deliver just that. If not, the ISP can filter it out.


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