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Spam The Almighty Buck

FTC Recommends Bounty on Spammers 371

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the pay-to-play dept.
joke-boy writes "AP reports that as part of the CANSPAM legislation, the FTC has issued a report recommending placing taxpayer-funded 6-figure bounties on spammers, much like the bounties placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted."
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FTC Recommends Bounty on Spammers

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  • It's about fscking time.

    Oh yeah. Now since the playing field is little even, let me get my catcher's mit.
    • by uberdave (526529) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:31PM (#10273572) Homepage
      Oh yeah. Now since the playing field is little even, let me get my catcher's mit.

      Why did I just imagine someone grinning evilly whilst cocking a machine pistol?
    • Re:Allow me to say (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Drawkcab (550036) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:37PM (#10273617)
      A bounty doesn't really make sense the way that spammers are currently prosecuted. Most spammers just get a slap on the wrist. Until spammers actually start getting serious hard time or huge civil penalties, then the value of the bounty would be greater than the cost to most spammers. This would make it beneficial for a small time spammer to partake in their own bounty.

      If bounties given out were a percentage of the fines actually collected from spammers (which ideally should be really painful for big spammers), rather than some fixed range, then a bounty system would make sense. And spammers who manage to launder their profits so the fines don't stick need to get prison time.
      • by GMFTatsujin (239569) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:00PM (#10273771) Homepage
        A bounty doesn't really make sense the way that spammers are currently prosecuted.

        It does, however, make a *lot* of sense if the spammer gets to hang on my far wall encased in frozen carbonite.

        I wouldn't consider paying a bounty hunter who brought in the spammer any other way.
      • by KarmaOverDogma (681451) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:03PM (#10273788) Homepage Journal
        I agree.

        Further, I am very curious as to how many bounty hunters will have will and/or the ability to get foriegn spammers to US Courts.

        This, of course, speaks nothing of the spammers who are already here.

        Spammers being actively hunted in the post Soviet Bloc countries, China, Nigeria, etc would be a very interesting thing to see if it *ever* happened, which I sincerely doubt.

        The war on spam reminds me of the war on drugs.

        And, IIRC, the war on drugs has yet to be won.

        Donald Rumsfeld, a man I am not very fond of, did correctly point out in my opinion that the war on drugs is a demand problem.

        So is Spam.

        As long as spam is profitable, it *will* continue.

        This will mainly serve to make the FTC look good while doing little (VERY little) to solve the problem.

        Our tax dollars at waste - again.

        .
      • I know Earthlinks $16 million judgment against Howard Carmack was just a drop in the bucket for a spammer, but the 3.5 to 7 years [itworld.com] the fed got him for should get the attention of the other ass pounders.
    • Now spammers will let you MAKE MONEY FAST!!!
  • Oh yea.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Krypto420 (652140) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:24PM (#10273522)

    Now these bastard are gonna make *ME* rich!!!!

  • by christopherfinke (608750) <chris@efinke.com> on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:24PM (#10273526) Homepage Journal
    What would it take to get someone to turn in one of those spammers who send millions of unwanted e-mails? At least $100,000, the Federal Trade Commission figures.
    Really? If I knew someone who was spamming, I'd turn them in for free. Any cash would just be a bonus.
  • Six Figures? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by josh3736 (745265) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:24PM (#10273527) Homepage
    I can understand six figure rewards for those on the ten most wanted list, but for spammers?

    Surely there are things that money could be better spent on. Like say, the implementation of a new email protocol. Or (gasp!) things like Social Security or education.

    • Re:Six Figures? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)
      Well the question becomes, how much is spam costing us, and will knocking out these spammers actually solve the problem long enough to be worth the money, or will new ones just crop up to fill the void? This should be obvious but for some reason I feel a need to share anyway.
      • Re:Six Figures? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by josh3736 (745265) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:35PM (#10273603) Homepage
        I'd say one could compare spam to P2P music downloading.

        When Napster became big, the RIAA shut it down. But then 3 more P2P apps popped up to fill that void. Then the RIAA tried to shut them down. Rinse and repeat, there's now 64 different [zeropaid.com] filesharing apps just for Windows.

        Now look at spam. Every time the FTC or whatever government agency shuts down a spammer, how many more will pop up to fill the void?

        Free music or free money. There's a risk with both -- getting sued by the RIAA or having the Federal government on your ass.

        What we really need to do is figgure out how to make it so that spam isn't profitable. Ever.

        • yep, that is true. The market is full of spammers, bust one, and all of a sudden you have a few aspiring spammers in their place taking the old business. Personally, I have no problems with spam, unless it is sent from a zombied pc.
        • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:02PM (#10273784)
          What we really need to do is figgure out how to make it so that spam isn't profitable. Ever.

          You'd have to legislate out stupidity.

          Fools buy stuff via spam, the companies involved feel justified in hiring a central marketing firm, who in turn hires the spammer.

          We have to get rid of the fools.

        • Re:Six Figures? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Saeger (456549)
          What we really need to do is figgure out how to make it so that spam isn't profitable. Ever.

          What if almost nothing was worth *buying* from someone else because you could "replicate" it yourself locally? The end of (most) material scarcity is just one of the economic implications of molecular manufacturing [foresight.org]; it will remove a lot of the incentive behind being an asshole trying to get ahead by any means necessary. Which reminds me of a quote:

          For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves an

    • Re:Six Figures? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:28PM (#10273560) Homepage Journal
      maybe they're trying to save money in the seven figures from goverment buro's and education institutions by decreasing amounts of spam.

      (yeah it's kinda high especially with the quite easy frameup process compared to most other crime)
    • Re:Six Figures? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by savagedome (742194) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:33PM (#10273592)
      Top ten most wanted deserve 7 and 8 figures.

      But seriously, screw these scum of the earth bastards. Remember those days when web was a nice place and everybody you knew had a cutesy little homepage and you would leave cute little message in their guest books and such with your name and email and such. DAMN I WANT THAT BACK. That was a nicer web instead of trying to take every bit of care not to leak your email EVEN ONCE. Coming up with NOSPAM crap in your email addresses while posting them somewhere in the hope that some bastard spammer's spider won't catch that. Putting all those funky signs and punctuation and ascii characters to fool those spiders. Using spam filters, white lists, black lists, bayseian etc. etc. Telling everybody not to send, forward anything and never to use your email except for personal reasons.

      And then your girlfriend sends you that cute little card to your email account from that cutesy flowery website that is an email harvester.

      DAMN I WANT THE OLD WEB BACK BEFORE THESE SPAMMERS CAME AND TOOK IT OVER.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:25PM (#10273530)
    Like a good caning or flogging plus prison time and life bankrupting fines and I'm sold on this!!!!
  • Bounty is a good idea, but I was hoping for more of a Mad Max scenario. You know, 2 Men Enter... 1 (non-spamming) man leaves
  • Bad Idea (Score:4, Funny)

    by ravenspear (756059) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:25PM (#10273535)
    This action will hurt consumers.

    You see, now I'm going to have to increase the cost of my penis enlargement pills to cover the increased risk this represents.
  • Innocent Spammers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cat9117600 (627358) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:27PM (#10273540) Homepage
    What about the people who are unknowingly sending spam from their cracked computers? Is this basically saying that there is a 6-digit bounty for the grandmother who doesn't know enough to keep her computer secure?
    • Re:Innocent Spammers (Score:3, Interesting)

      by alatesystems (51331)
      Of course. She is a terrorist then. Any "compassionate conservative" could tell you that, especially John Ashcroft. You might ask him how the USA PATRIOT act has saved the world too.

      For the dense, all of the above was my cynicism exposing itself.

      I don't support a bounty unless you can find the person who actually originated it, not the grandmother with the infected computer. This is impossible because of the nature of the internet(routed through zombie after zombie).

      I think it's a really bad idea and ope
    • I suspect that the bounties would be on the top ten spammers. Taking out grandma might be fun, but it won't substantially decrease the volume of spam, unless she's got a server farm sitting on an OC192 or something.
    • by zogger (617870)
      ....confiscation and public destruction of zombie computers. Then just *perhaps* enough people would bingo to what they are running and how they are running stuff on their computers to treat them with a little more intelligence, and they in turn might go seek out those who supplied them with inadequate products that are sold with no warranties, the vendors and software makers who ship these easily zombified boxes.

      It's way past time products that come brand new pre-borked got recalled and the vendors ordere
  • Yeah but (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hypermike (680396)
    Six-figure incentives are the only way to persuade people to disclose the identity of co-workers, friends and others they know are responsible for flooding online mailboxes with unsolicited pitches for prescription drugs, weight loss plans and other products, according to an agency report Thursday.

    I dont think spammers run around telling coworkers and relatives they send spam. These people keep to themselves.

    How does that quote go? The only way for 3 people to keep a secret is if 2 of them are dead.

    It w
  • I would love to make an addition to my pages that talk about hunting vermin [komar.org], bats [komar.org], rats [komar.org], and squirrels [komar.org] that would be called Hunting Spammers
  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:28PM (#10273555) Homepage
    Why make the taxpayers pay for cleaning up the internet of spam?

    Make the spammers pay out the bounty. There's absolutely no reason to make taxpayers (you know, citizens) suffer and go further in debt (via the nation) for the crimes to humanity that spammers have perpetrated.
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:42PM (#10273646) Homepage Journal
      Presumably the spammers' assets will be seized. Maybe some of that money can go back into the system to pay the bounties, et cetera.
    • by 1u3hr (530656) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:52PM (#10273708)
      Make the spammers pay out the bounty. There's absolutely no reason to make taxpayers (you know, citizens) suffer and go further in debt (via the nation) for the crimes to humanity that spammers have perpetrated.

      RTFA. Not enough money is recovered from spammers, even the few that are prosecuted. There is a small number of big spammers, who are smart enough to keep their money safe from seizure, and a lot who live in trailer parks. The benefit to society as a whole is worth the cost if it deters.

    • Why make the taxpayers pay for cleaning up the internet of spam?

      The same reason we use taxpayer dollars to clean up litter thrown into the streets by assholes. Someone has to clean up the shit. Bitching about "fairness" doesn't magically make trash disappear.

      Do you also believe that taxpayer funding of prisons is unfair? Taxpayer funding of police is unfair? Taxpayer funding of the court systems is unfair? After all, why should we pay to have our own laws enforced?

      Make the spammers pay out the bount

      • This is deluded. A $100,000 judgement against a spammer is all well and good, but if that person doesn't possess $100,000, you're up shit's creek. Are you aware of the absolute nightmare it is to actually collect on a court judgement, even for small amounts? Just because the judge says it doesn't make it so.

        That's because we don't extract the judgement from them in the form of unpleasant work. We've got a big country and we could find some nice ironic punishment for spammers - something that would requi

    • Um, actually I couldn't help but notice that you pay the police to do this kind of thing.

      So is it unfair to make the taxpayers pay to clean up the streets of common thugs and fraudsters? Spamhaus seems to think that the majority of our spam comes from about 200 spammers. Put a dozen of them in prison, and the rest will start to think harder about what they do and whether or not they can continue to operate.
    • Why make the taxpayers pay for cleaning up the internet of spam?

      Apparently you don't know how much (assuming your from the US) we spend on incarcerating people here in the US. Its on order of $40,000 a year for your basic inmate, and we have the highest (AFAIK) percentage of our population in jail/prison than any other country.

      I would gladly pay out of my pocket (not $100,00 I don't have that :) to get a spammer off of the 'net.

      BTW, please call 1-800-884-9510 and say "you people suck". More info can b
  • Not to be negative, but I feel like this probably won't work.

    I think a lot of spammers are out of the US, so it won't matter to them.

    But even those that are in the US, are probably doing a fine job covering their tracks. They wouldn't put out the bounty if they could easily take care of the problem.

    • Sure it will. Just look at what happened when Osama was put on the top 10 most wanted list.

      Oh Wait ...

      • Sure it will. Just look at what happened when Osama was put on the top 10 most wanted list. Oh Wait ...

        Osama doesn't give an address for people to send money to. Spammers ultimately have to give a route to find them, or at least their bank account.

  • complete bullshit. Follow the trail of money, lock up their ability to perform commerce, and you shut down the spammers. Last thing we need is to fund a bunch of vigilantes.
  • Lawrence Lessig has been pushing a bounty system for spammers for a long time. See this Interesting People post [interesting-people.org], for example. He was still pushing the same concept recently at his talk at the Conference on Email and Anti-Spam [www.ceas.cc] (July 2004). I'm surprised that he isn't mentioned in TFA.
  • by po_boy (69692) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:31PM (#10273573) Homepage
    I think that they determined that it would take $100,000 - $250,000 for people to turn in people that they knew were spamming, but according to the article: The FTC, in a report requested by Congress, did not take a position on whether such a system was a good idea. To me, that sounds like the refrained from recommending it.

    I guess it's up to us to convince them that it's a good idea.

    Note: they recommend that this money come from taxpayers, but in an effort to try to cut down on that, can I suggest we find another source of it? Perhaps we need to not only look to civil penalties from the spammers, but also from the ISPs who behave negligently toward spammers.
  • I'm sorry, but I find it a bit disturbing that the FTC is likening spammers to violent criminals. As much as we hate 'em, making such correlations is extreeeemely dangerous, and despite how much I hate spam, I'd rather have my money be spent on fixing the system so that it can't be manipulated instead of just finding the people that are manipulating it, because... once one goes down, there will be another to take his/her place.
  • we can shoot them when they flee?
    Yeah baby! I can see a new career for me here.
    Let's see, plastic cuffs, a box of 9mm ammo, oh, and a badge too! Oh boy! I can't wait to shoot some spammers in the back as they run away!

  • Won't do much (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dorsai42 (738671) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:34PM (#10273598)
    When there's a bounty on the advertisers who use the spammers, then we'll see a reduction in spam
  • Tax funded? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:38PM (#10273624) Journal
    Sorry, I have a problem with that. We can easily raise millions in voluntary contributions for a Ralsky Kneecapping Fund.

    -jcr
  • Obligatory (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:39PM (#10273627)
    Your post advocates a

    ( ) technical (x) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

    approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

    ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
    ( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
    ( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
    ( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
    ( ) Users of email will not put up with it
    ( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) The police will not put up with it
    ( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
    ( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
    ( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
    ( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
    ( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

    Specifically, your plan fails to account for

    ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    ( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
    (x) Open relays in foreign countries
    ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
    ( ) Asshats
    ( ) Jurisdictional problems
    ( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
    ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    ( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
    ( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
    (x) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
    (x) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
    ( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
    ( ) Extreme profitability of spam
    (x) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    ( ) Technically illiterate politicians
    ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
    ( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
    ( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    ( ) Outlook

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    (x) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
    been shown practical
    ( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
    ( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
    ( ) Blacklists suck
    ( ) Whitelists suck
    ( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    ( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
    ( ) Sending email should be free
    ( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
    ( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    ( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
    ( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
    ( ) I don't want the government reading my email
    ( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

    ( ) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
    (x) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
    ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
    house down!
    ----
    Also, finding spammers has never been a problem. [spamhaus.org]
    • IT's testimony to bring charges and convict. I mean spamhaus can say someone is a spammer, that isn't enough to get a subpoena much less a conviction.

      What they want is someone who has direct knowledge of the spammer's illegal activities to come forward and testify. If I know Alan Rasky's been spamming because I've heard about it from an ISP, no good. If I know he's been spamming because I've been to his house, heard him talk about it, and seen the servers, that's what they want.

      Convicting someone is diffe
  • So is this one of those "Wanted: Dead or Alive" bounties?
  • . . . so long as it's payable whether the spammer's delivered dead or alive. Preferably dead.
  • by The Master Control P (655590) <ejkeever&nerdshack,com> on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:48PM (#10273686)
    I have, in the past, made a handful of comments w.r.t. the spam problem. After thinking about it for a bit, I've come to realize that the solution is not so much in applying new technology but applying new people.

    Think about it: Right now, almost everything that lands in the spammer's inbox is signal because right now, no one in their right mind responds to offers for the hottest young teens on the net and herbal viagra. Thus, it's trivial for them to send out a hundred million e-mails and it's also easy to sort through the maybe one thousand people dumb enough to respond: It's almost ALL signal.

    But, suppose that of those hundred million people, ten million clicked the link and a million responded. The S/N ratio goes from 10:1 to 1:1000 or 1:10000. It's no longer going to be economical for the spammer to sort through so much static. It should be possible to respond to, perhaps, 1/10 or 1/20 of the spam you get. It won't take much... Just something like "I'm very intrigued by your offer. Please tell me more." You can't use a computer script to generate responses, because they can easily be filtered out just like you filter 99% of spam. You'll maybe spend 30 minutes a day to respond to 60 spams.

    Before long, the bastards will spend so goddamn much time sorting through the static that they won't be able to send more! The only problem is, what do we do to reedcuate the millions of idiots (ie the ones who create the problem in the FIRST PLACE!!!) who are (mostly) trained to pound the delete key?
    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday September 16, 2004 @11:44PM (#10274268) Homepage Journal
      At first I thought, "why waste the time when we have things like Eliza to do it for you?"

      Then I thought, "that's too funny, somebody must've done it already," and, yeah, here's the perl script [perlmonks.org].

      You can't use a computer script to generate responses, because they can easily be filtered out just like you filter 99% of spam. You'll maybe spend 30 minutes a day to respond to 60 spams.

      I suspect if you built up the vocabulary well enough, and, more importantly, use the content of the message with a word rank algorithm and then do some thesaurus lookups and stemming, maybe using WordNet you'd have something that would be at least as unique as what any given subset of 10000 people would come up with.

      I'm intrigued because I have a good enough ruleset now that any SpamAssassin score over 10 goes to /dev/null and I haven't seen any false positives in the past six months. I get plenty of false negatives but the hits are ready to feed to a script, and I'm too lazy to respond to them myself.
  • People spamming just to be turned in, doing a bit of jail time or paying fines or whatever (after all it's not like you killed someone or stole anything etc.) and then splitting the bounty with whoever turned them in.

    I smell a scam...
  • by pyrrhonist (701154) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @09:53PM (#10273716)
    FTC Recommends Bounty on Spammers

    Well, I am just outraged! Why does the FTC want me to put paper towels on spammers? Are they going to microwave them or something? Furthermore, why does it have to be Bounty, in particular? I know it's supposed to be the, "quicker picker-upper", but, come on, can I at least use a bargain brand like Marcal? This is just insane...

    What?!?! A reward offered by the government for acts deemed beneficial to the state...?

    Oh.

    Nevermind...

  • Big picture (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Southpaw018 (793465)
    You know, sometimes it's good to take a step back from our collective geekdom and look at the bigger picture. I'm thinking of this from my Mom's perspective, a woman who once didn't know what the O and I on opposide ends of a power switch meant: is this a sign of the times or what?

    We just comapred spammers to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted. Spammers are, on some level, comparable to druglords and serial killers. Isn't that true, though? Especially druglords. I can so picture a spammer sitting back with his sma
  • by thomasdelbert (44463) <thomasdelbert@yahoo.com> on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:01PM (#10273778)
    Your company advocates a

    ( ) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based (x) vigilante

    approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

    ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
    (x) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
    (x) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
    ( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
    ( ) Users of email will not put up with it
    ( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) The police will not put up with it
    ( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
    ( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
    ( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
    ( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
    (x) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

    Specifically, your plan fails to account for

    ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    ( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
    (x) Open relays in foreign countries
    ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
    (x) Asshats
    (x) Jurisdictional problems
    (x) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
    (x) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    ( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
    ( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
    ( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
    ( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
    ( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
    ( ) Extreme profitability of spam
    (x) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    ( ) Technically illiterate politicians
    ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
    ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with Microsoft
    ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with Yahoo
    ( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
    ( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    ( ) Outlook

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    (x) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
    ( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
    ( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
    ( ) Blacklists suck
    ( ) Whitelists suck
    ( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    ( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
    ( ) Sending email should be free
    ( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
    ( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    (x) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
    ( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
    ( ) I don't want the government reading my email
    (x) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

    ( ) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
    (x) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid company for suggesting it.
    ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!

  • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:02PM (#10273781)
    Let's review the facts:
    1. Spammers use stolen resources (hijacked zombie computers, DSL/cable connections) in order to further their business.
    2. Spammers do not seek consent before bombarding email systems with their marketing information.
    3. Spammers generally disrespect requests for them to stop sending unsolicited email, and in fact often send more mail after such requests (selling 'confirmed' addresses to colleagues)
    4. Spammers deliberately conceal their location of 'business', mislead consumers in their 'marketing campaigns' and forge their identities.
    It's good to see these people increasingly treated as what they really are, criminals that have been harming society and getting away with it because our current laws are too slow to catch up. What they're doing is not only annoying, but harmful to innocent peoples' systems.
  • by skribe (26534) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:13PM (#10273855) Homepage
    Dear subscriber:

    As you may know the CANSPAM legislation now includes a SIX FIGURE bounty on spammers. I am willing to share with you a list of known spammers for a paltry sum of $US10. Please send money to...

    skribe

  • outsourcing risk (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:30PM (#10273923) Homepage Journal
    The reason this won't work is that it, like so many other laws, are designed to punish scapegoats(how apropos) and not the criminals. The criminals outsource risk. They use plausible deniability and showcased due diligence to avoid responsibility. They go in front of the courts and congress and say things like 'I don't recall' and 'I did not know' and 'No one told me', and seldom are the laws applied in such a way that it is required that these executive be held responsible for the mismanagement and malfeasance that those answers so clearly imply.

    The fact is that major corporations, like the illegal drug dealers, outsource the most dangerous of their illegal activities to small time criminals. The discounts these small time criminals provide are the smallest part of the benefit. The real benefit comes from a judicial system that allows Wal*Mart to hire illegal aliens at wages that do no meet the federal standards, but not be responsible for the legal consequences. This shifting of responsibility away from corporation appears to the primary purpose of the modern executive. And therefore the livelihood of the million dollar executive depends on the fiction that he or she is not responsible for anything separated by the smallest sliver of paper. Even if it requires that the we assume the executive is the stupidest person in the planet, pride in ones job and oneself has become so irrelevant that stupidity is the preferable interpretation.

    This means that the spammers we are likely to catch will be replaced tomorrow, created by the corporate dual obsession with criminal behavior and outsourcing risk. They at the same time need to protect themselves from lawsuits, but also need to sell prescription drugs to kids. There is always another person who wants to earn a buck, and the pushers are always willing to set up another patsy to take the fall.

  • by craXORjack (726120) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:35PM (#10273952)
    The report said any reward should come from taxpayer funds because collection of civil penalties from spammers will not be enough to finance the system

    They should pay for it from the anti-terrorism funds that have already been allocated. After all, what is the largest flow of unregulated information into the US? Spam of course. They already talked about looking for steganography in pornography but sending secret messages to unidentifiable recipients using spam would be childsplay. Millions would receive the spams so the terror cell members couldn't be identified and the sender is virtually untraceable because of using rooted zombies. And due to the infinite variety of spam, what G-man could determine which spams even contain messages?

  • by Gannoc (210256) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:35PM (#10273953)

    Now our tax dollars are going to go towards keeping our penises small. Great.

  • show me the money (Score:3, Insightful)

    by codepunk (167897) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:42PM (#10273988)
    Sounds like a nice supplement to my income I only need to bust one a year to make a really nice living. Bring it on I am more than ready!
  • by AJWM (19027) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:44PM (#10273997) Homepage
    Or just the pelt?
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @11:24PM (#10274186) Homepage
    It's not that hard to find spammers. Except for the clueless guy the FTC had in charge of the project. The one who, after a year, realized they should try to follow the money. Isn't that covered in Introduction to Law Enforcement 101?

    There's a whole spammer infrastructure, a constellation of crooked companies that make profitable spamming possible. They're not hard to find. [spamforum.biz] Most of them are committing felonies. So why aren't we hearing about arrests once a week or so, instead of once a year? Most of the players are actually in the US or Canada, even though they may seem to be offshore.

    Just as an exercise, I looked at the last spam I received. It was a porno spam, linking to a web site in China. But on the payment page, the form submission was to a server in Canada, connected to Bellnexxia. That's fairly common. Often, spammers don't want to process the payments through the anonymous crooked ISP that serves the data.

    What's really needed is to apply pressure to the banking system to shut down the "high risk third party billing" operations upon which spammers rely for credit card processing. A few money laundering cases would clear up that issue.

  • by dananderson (1880) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @11:26PM (#10274198) Homepage
    It's interesting the report was requested by Congress. California has a spammer, Bill Jones [billjonessucks.com], running for Senate (Republican, BTW). So we can have a spammer deciding the laws for spammers. Sort of like the fox guarding the chicken house.

    California had a state law that was to go into effect where citizens can collect fines from spammers (at least in state). Unfortunately the so-called "CAN Spam Act," nullified the state law. So the CAN Spam Act actually encouraged, not discouraged SPAM. The members of Congress are no doubt technically ignorant and easily presuaded by lobbyists (especially the Direct Marketing Association) that I don't see much hope from the old geezers (no disrespect :-).

  • by humankind (704050) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @11:52PM (#10274292) Journal
    It's all about enforcement.

    It's a sad day when one branch of the government offers a bounty to get another branch of the government off their asses to enforce laws that have been on the books for decades.

    Spammers break laws. Felony laws. 95% of all spammers break serious laws that could have them put in prison.

    We don't need people to report spammers. All someone has to do is put an unpatched windows pc on the net for a few hours and they'll be a zombie pc and start collecting info and able to identify the spammers. In a day you can have a hundred charges of computer tampering.

    Think about this come election time. We have a government that has been neutered by big business that has little concern for anything which doesn't directly affect big, multinational corporations that contribute to their campaign coffers. The apathy of the public is responsible for allowing these losers in office.
  • Bounties are silly -- most geeks would do this for free.

    How about legalizing (or promising to look the other way) vigilante attacks against spam sites? If they give a phone number, set up an auto-dialer. If it's a website, launch a DoS attack. If there's a physical address, mail them a bomb. If this stuff was all legal, I guarantee the problem would solve itself.

    Seriously... bounties that are marked "dead or alive" are far more effective.

  • Definition of Irony (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nwbvt (768631) on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:08AM (#10274338)
    Should such legislation be enacted, the FTC (or whoever collects such tips) will have their inboxes flooded with bogus reports of spammers from people just wanting to make a few easy bucks.

    BTW, editors, why don't you guys RTFA once in a while. The FTC is not recommending anything. All they did was figure out what type of reward would be needed should such a system be implemented. From the article itself:

    The FTC, in a report requested by Congress, did not take a position on whether such a system was a good idea.
    Way to completely miss the point of the article.
  • by bluewee (677282) on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:15AM (#10274361)
    How does this fight SPAM from other countries? Take taxatation, if you store your money on an offshore account where their LAWS are different, it does not get taxed, how does spam all of a sudden get put into a different realm?

    How about something that works: Fight SPAM [abuse.net]

  • by davejenkins (99111) <.slashdot. .at. .davejenkins.com.> on Friday September 17, 2004 @01:18AM (#10274536) Homepage
    Federal programs are available to you! You can make THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS with a simple email or phone call!

    1. Find a spammer
    2. Turn him in
    3. Profit!!!

    The Federal Government wants this message to get out to all InterWeb users! So send this mail to all your friends and family!
  • Get rich fast (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sacrilicious (316896) on Friday September 17, 2004 @07:51AM (#10275558) Homepage
    The report said any reward should come from taxpayer funds because collection of civil penalties from spammers will not be enough to finance the system

    Right there the FCC has certified this as a good way to make money via fraud. All fraudsters have to do is find someone willing to be the fall guy - i.e. "become" a spammer - in return for a percentage of the reward when they're "turned in". With the above paragraph, the FCC has made the business case for this by saying that the reward will outweigh the penalty.

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