Monday, August 11, 2003

After the success of the national do-not-call list, to restrain telemarketers, there's talk of a similar no-spam list. So, lobbyists on Capitol Hill are pointing up vital differences between telemarketing and spam:

The direct marketers and their allies like Microsoft and AOL object strongly to a do-not-spam list. Spam is different from telephone marketing, they say, because such a list would be expensive to administer and could be vulnerable to computer hackers.

Which is all very different from the do-not-call list. You see, it can't just be a list of digits, it would also have letters and even those funny-looking '@' things.

More important, it would most likely restrict the sale of credit cards and DVD clubs by mainstream companies as much as miracle pills and get-rich-quick schemes from online hucksters.

Of course, credit card companies and DVD clubs never used telemarketing. And there's more:

"Phone numbers are typically published in directories, so there is no mystery about what they are,'` said Ira S. Rubinstein, an associate general counsel at Microsoft, which runs the big Hotmail e-mail service. "People go to great lengths to keep their e-mail addresses private..."

Indeed. Who ever heard of an unlisted telephone number?

To be fair, the article points out at least one legitimate issue -- with spammers already going overseas, and even using trojan horse attacks to turn home PCs into spam relays, it's not clear that the more objectionable ones would care about a do-not-spam list, though as Chuck Schumer points out, it would at least put cases against them on a firm legal basis...


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