Letter to the Editor of the Montreal Gazette. It appeared in the 2003-7-4 edition under the heading “Similar campaign as no-call list needed to stop spam”.
If it was so easy for U.S. regulators to come up with what promises to be an effective way to put the lid on annoying dinnertime calls from telemarketers (“Telemarketing victims’ revenge”, Gazette 2003-6-30, page A18) it should be equally simple to deal with email spam. After all, unwanted telephone calls are relatively easy to deal with: one has the option of simply hanging up, of asking for their number so that one can call them back; or asking them to hold and then let them wait. Unwanted email is not only time-consuming to wade through, but offends many sensibilities with incessant ads for viagra, low-cost mortgages, or pornographic web sites.
I propose a system similar to that being set up for telemarketing “clients” in the U.S.: a website where spam recipients can register their email address; spammers who send unwanted emails to a registered email address will then be fined. Not only the person or organization which actually sends out the emails, as they are often hard to identify, but the individuals or companies whose products or services are being touted, should be held financially accountable for invading the privacy of individuals who have chosen to “opt out”. Canadian lawmakers, please take note: we don’t need to wait for the Americans to lead the way so we can once again follow.
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