Thursday, June 12, 2003
I have to say, this anti-anti-spam-legislation piece sounds about right.
I like Chris Caldwell. I think he's smart, witty, and insightful. But it is no accident that he speaks French. Caldwell is one of those "big government conservatives" you've heard tell about who drive the libertoids nuts. And I suspect his anti-spam diatribe in the recent Weekly Standard isn't much more than a conservative showing unseemly New Class impatience with the complexities of life.
Now, let me tell you a bit about me. I'm the guy that Arnold Kling is talking about, the one who doesn't cull his email effectively. In fact, I'm generally technically illiterate, in spite of the fact that I spend all day in front of a terminal. My systems department hates me. But one consequence of my sloth is that I am aware of the degree to which I am drowning not in classic spam but in legitimate office email that I wind up treating as spam. I get hundreds of emails a day that I don't have time to look at - ratings actions notices, trade tickets, research pieces, etc. Some of this stuff I ought to look at; most of it is irrelevant to me. But weeding through it all is almost impossible, so usually I ignore it. Spam is trivial to ignore next to all of this junk.
Spam is nowhere near as obnoxious as telephone solicitation, and no one thought that phone solicitation would make the phone unusable, as Caldwell frets about email. And if we are to have legislation against spam, the opt-out registry should do it. I should think that would be the least intrusive means of restricting spam, and the easiest to police.
I am sympathetic to the notion that pornographic spam should be regulated somehow, but it seems to me that this is secondary to the need to "zone" the internet to make it easier to prevent minors from accessing pornography. I've never really understood why this would be difficult technically or legally, but, like I said, I am technically illiterate, so my opinions may not be worth much.
Anyhow, just my 2c.