Opinion » Cybernaut


Spam Act a mixed bag



With very little fanfare the Can-Spam Act of 2003, an American anti-spam law, came into effect south of the border. This new law has been hotly debated by both sides of the issue. Some believe it will reduce the quantity of spam while shackling spammers with a set of regulations and standards. Others believe it essentially legalizes spam, and will only drive spammers to other countries where the rules don’t apply.

Like truth in advertising laws that, among other things, force pharmaceutical companies to list of all of the possible side-effects of their products in commercials, the new Can-Spam Act demands more accountability from U.S.-based spammers. All e-mails will have to conform to the rules, or you could face federal fines, censure and even imprisonment.

Among other things, a span e-mail should give the recipient the ability to say whether or not they would like to receive any further e-mails in the future. If the recipient wisely opts out then the spammer has to remove their e-mail address from their list.

In addition, every unsolicited e-mail should include a functioning return e-mail address, information on the identity of the spammer, and a physical address where the spammer can be reached.

The new law also takes away the right of victims of spammers to sue, with state and federal authorities now in charge. Only Internet Service Providers will have any civil recourse.

For all of Can-Spam’s flaws, at least the U.S. is taking the issue seriously. No legislation has been tabled in Canada as yet (just a failed Public Members Bill) which means that most American spammers are probably going to use us as a home base for their operations until we can get our asses in gear.

The leading Canadian anti-spam group is CAUCE, or the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email at www.cauce.ca. If you want to get involved, even just to sign a petition in favour of anti-spam legislation, this is a good place to start.

3D chipmakers face off

Most people are aware of the ongoing battle between Sun Microsystems and Microsoft over the Java programming language (they kissed and made up early this month after Microsoft agreed to pay $1.6 billion, and now say they will work together as best of friends). Most people would also know something about the stiff competition that’s evolving between Microsoft and Linux-based operating systems, Intel processors and AMD processors, Hotmail and Google, Yahoo and Google, Dell and HP, cable and DSL broadband services… the list goes on and on.

The battle between 3D graphics chipmakers has been under the radar, but with most computers pulling double-duty as multimedia centres these days it could turn nasty.