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April 10, 2004

To All the People Whining That CAN-SPAM Hasn't Worked

Posted 3 years, 3 months ago on April 10, 2004
It happens at least twice a week. Some reporter, pundit, or well-meaning but tunnel-visioned anti-spammer will point triumphantly to the fact that the load of spam in their inbox has not decreased - in fact, if anything, increased - since January 1, 2004, when the CAN-SPAM Act became effective, as evidence that the new Federal law has done nothing to stop spam.

Well, yes.

The thing is, CAN-SPAM is a law. That means that it is prospective, and its initial strength, if any, will be in enforcement, not deterrence (once there has been visible and painful enforcement, *then* comes deterrence). What this means is that in addition to the law being passed, a case needs to be filed, a trial needs to occur, and a verdict needs to be reached. Then, most likely, an appeal has to be defended. Even on the fast track, it usually takes months (sometimes on the order of years) before a case finally reaches conclusion.

So, will CAN-SPAM actually make a difference? Yes, probably it will, but as but one of several tools needed in the anti-spam arsenal (the others being technical solutions and industry change, both of which are evolving at the same time as the law).

But don't take my word for it; ask Bob Vila.
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