Is Spam a big problem? I contend that it is and that it is going to get worse. Some random thoughts, some of which are what to do about it.
- Make it illegal or make the penalties tougher. I don't know what the current legal status is, but even with tough laws this is hard to enforce because (1) What is spam? and (2) it would require international cooperation.
- We could try just making spam that is trying to rip you off illegal. I'm sure it is. But sometimes its hard to tell what is a rip off and what is not. The ``Nigerian Billionaire'' scam is clearly a ripoff (does anyone still fall for that?) but the ``you can get viagra at a cheap price'' might not be. The ``we can get you out of debt'' is much harder to judge since (from what I understand) they pay your debts, charge you an enormous interest, but let you pay it off over a much longer period of time. It may well be legal but unethical. It may even be legal and ethical.
- Keep designing better software to block spam. This is the current solution, and it works pretty well, but its getting harder, and too much real email is being blocked. Also, this is more of why I think its a big problem- we (as a society) spend an awful lot of time and effort on this.
- As more people know that these are scams and less people fall for them, will the scam-spams stop? Can we educate people so they know better?
- Fighting back- there was an article in the Atlantic Monthly about people who scam the scammers- with success. But there are not enough of them, and they are not that effective, to be a real deterrent.