FC: Reply to Cato panel, Direct Marketing Association, and spam

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Thu Mar 28 2002 - 06:08:18 PST

  • Next message: Declan McCullagh: "FC: Texas private investigator replies to Robert Gellman on privacy"

    Our report on the Cato event:
    Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2002 18:49:06 -0700
    To: Declan McCullagh <declanat_private>, wcrewsat_private
    From: "Richard Johnson" <rdumpat_private>
    Subject: Re: FC: Events: Cato spam panel TODAY, EFF dinner 4/16, Big
      Brother   awards
    At 01:44 -0500 on 27/03/2002, Declan McCullagh wrote:
     > ---
     > Subject: Spam panel Wednesday at Cato.  -wayne
     > Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 12:15:50 -0500
     > From: "Wayne Crews" <wcrewsat_private>
     > To: <declanat_private>
     > ...
     > The Cato Institute
     > invites you to a Policy Forum
     > The Spam Wars
     > What Can Be Done about the Annoying, Unsolicited E-mail That Is Driving Us
     > Crazy?
     > featuring
     > Howard Beales
     > Federal Trade Commission
     > Chris Hoofnagle
     > Electronic Privacy
     > Information Center
     > Rebecca Richards
     > TRUSTe
     > Jerry Cerasale
     > Direct Marketing Association
    Very interesting.  This panel includes a member of the main organization
    blocking or perverting all anti-spam legislation that has been attempted to
    date.  Specifically, I am referring to Jerry Cerasale of the pro-spam
    Direct Marketing Association.  The DMA uses its br..., er, I mean lobbying
    muscle in Congress to try to ensure that DMA members can continue to spam
    with impunity while the chickenboner scammers are wiped out.  Heck, they've
    even gone so far as to effectively say that we email server operators and
    ISPs should be providing a free subsidy for the DMA members' postage-due
    Also interesting is the presence of a TRUSTe representative.  TRUSTe has
    never done anything against their members who spam, and I hear is now even
    disclaming any authority over member email abuses.  I've been watching
    TRUSTe from the beginning.  I was IS Director at a fairly large (and
    thankfully now quite defunct) privacy violation firm when TRUSTe was being
    formed -- we had a rep on the board.  I speak from personal experience then
    and since when I say that anyone who believes TRUSTe is about protecting
    consumer privacy, rather than about putting bureaucratic delay barriers
    between privacy violaters and their victims, hasn't been paying attention.
    TRUSTe exists to take money from firms that want to violate privacy, and
    who thus need a PR cut-out to induce victims to give up and accept their
    abuse.  Despite one unfortunate period where execs went around threatening
    specious SLAPP actions against critics, TRUSTe has performed that PR
    function admirably.
    The FTC representation is interesting as well.  The FTC has no mandate
    regarding spam.  Instead, they deal with fraudulent trade practices.
    However, only some spam is for fraudulent deals.  The real danger to the
    usefulness of email for personal communication is from so-called legitimate
    companies who decide they can use our mailboxes as their billboards without
    providing us any compensation.  That really has nothing to do with the FTC.
    The presence of the two pro-spams along with the FTC rep, and the total
    lack of any representation from CAUCE, CAUBE, or those who actually fight
    -all- spam in the trenches at ISPs, is quite telling.  Clearly, the DMA's
    lobbying is paying off.  They're attempting to have the email abuse their
    members perform declared "not spam", while focusing all attention on the
    poor stupid scammers.  I therefore suggest the forum will be less than
    useful for the real world fight against pro-spams like the DMA, who would,
    as much as any chickenboner scammer, force us to eat their spam, at our
    cost, on our private property.
    That forum thus isn't going to shed any new light on the real issues:
    	spam as invasion of personal space/privacy
    	spam as trespass to chattel
    	spam as theft by conversion
    Spam is all about prior consent for delivery.  Spam is not about content,
    no matter how fraudulent or disgusting the content may be.
    Regardless, I will continue to refuse to let packets from pro-spams in the
    DMA onto all private property under my control.  Well-behaved visitors are
    allowed, but those who paper my systems as if they were free billboards are
    trespassers.  If they want me to accept their crapola, they'll have to
    negotiate a separate waste disposal contract with me, and I won't be cheap.
    My mailbox. My property. My personal space. My rules. Deal with it.
    POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
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