[lug] off topic, spam laws

Jeffrey Siegal jbs at quiotix.com
Mon Feb 11 08:53:09 MST 2002

Peter Hutnick wrote:
> On Sunday 10 February 2002 09:23 pm, D. Stimits wrote:
> > I am considering trying to get some legislation passed that would make
> > it a criminal offense to forge headers during commercial advertisement.
> I think that criminalizing theft of service would make more sense.

What you're calling theft of service is probably already criminal, under
anti-hacking statutes which prohibit "access to" or "use of" a computer
system by someone who is not authorized to do so by the owner of the

The problem is that theft of service on a public email server basically
requires you to notify the spammer not to use your email server; they
get one free bite at the apple, which may still be a *very* large spam
problem if there are a large number of spammers (and there are).  Plus,
if you can't easily figure out who they are, you can't really notify
them not to use your email server.

Laws criminalizing (or at least defining a civil cause of action) header
forgery already exist in some states (California and/or Washington come
to mind, though I don't know the details of either law offhand).

An existing federal law with similar requirements is the TCPA which
requires that fax machines transmit their own phone number at the top of
all faxes, and also prohibits unsolicited commercial faxes entirely
(defines $500 statutory damages for each such fax).  Some people believe
that this law already applies to spam (the definition of a "fax machine"
in the law is somewhat broad), but this is not entirely clear.

More information about the LUG mailing list