Spam king 'caponed'?

Filed Under: Law & order, Spam

Al CaponeIDG reports that major-league spammer Robert Soloway has pleaded guilty to criminal charges. Not for spamming, it seems, but for fraud and tax evasion.

This will be cold comfort to readers in Australia, since it's not going to do anything to stop American mass-email operators from blasting Aussies with email which might be legal in the USA, but which is clearly not permitted under Australian law.

Loosely speaking, federal regulations in the USA seem to give you the right to spam me until I ask you to stop -- whether I am inclined to trust your unsubscribe system or not.

In Australia, it's exactly the opposite. Unless and until I authorise you to spam me, you may not send me any commercial emails. Not even an opening email to ask whether I mind if you start spamming me. So there's no such thing as needing to unsubscribe from something to which I haven't already subscribed. (This sounds morally and logically obvious to me, but it took an Act of Parliament to make it unequivocal.)

Sadly, when you officially report spam in Australia, the web form provided asks whether you have already tried to unsubscribe, as if to imply that you might as well give it a go before complaining.

Nevertheless, American companies which have business interests in Australia are subject to the Australian Spam Act, and can't hide behind the aptly named CAN-SPAM law which applies in the USA.

So why not dob them in to the authorities? You'll probably find that nothing will come of your reports, but that's one step better than knowing nothing will happen because you've done nothing. (With apologies to the known unknowns of D. Rumsfeld, Esq.)

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About the author

Paul Ducklin is a passionate security proselytiser. (That's like an evangelist, but more so!) He lives and breathes computer security, and would be happy for you to do so, too. Paul won the inaugural AusCERT Director's Award for Individual Excellence in Computer Security in 2009. Follow him on Twitter: @duckblog