FTC to Congress Lawrence Lessig Was Right

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A lot of people scoffed at Stanford Law School professor Lawrence Lessig when he announced that he would wager his job against the efficacy of a bounty system to track down spammers, offering that if it didn’t work, he’s resign his position at Stanford.

However, in a new report by the Federal Trade Commission to Congress, the FTC has said that such a bounty system would indeed work, provided that the rewards were high enough – like in the 100,000 to 250,000 dollar range.


The problem, however, is that the bounty funds would have to come at taxpayers’ expense, as the FTC acknowledged what every ISP and anti-spam outfit has known all along – your odds of collecting on a judgement against a spammer are near zero.

Also of note is that $100,000-$250,000 is more than the rewards offered for narcing on criminals and even terrorists.

Not surprisingly, the DMA has opposed this, saying that we should allow more time for law enforcement to work, and that we “shouldn’t rush into such a system”.

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You can read about Professor Lessig here.

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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One thought on “FTC to Congress Lawrence Lessig Was Right

  1. A bounty would be cool, but the right solution is private right of action for statutory damages.
    That’s what’s worked for junk faxes.
    A stupid/misleading report. Nearly all spam is UCE (Unsolicited Commercial Email)
    It’s easy to find the sender of UCE. The purpose of UCE is the C in UCE – Commerce.
    You buy what the spam is advertising (usually purchasable with a CC or check), and you follow the money.
    Buy it with a CC, request a chargeback and the identity of the seller.
    Check has the seller’s bank info on it when you get it back with your statement.
    (The latter is very convenient when you get a judgement against the spammer in small claims court and they don’t pay.)
    BTW, I’ve seen proof the above works.

    I disagree with each of the recommendations of the FTC report, which are based upon false conclusions :

    * tie eligibility to imposition of a final court order, rather than
    to collection of civil penalties;
    * fund reward payments through appropriations, rather than collected
    civil penalties;
    * restrict eligibility to insiders with high-value information;
    * minimize eligibility disputes and associated costs by exempting
    the FTC’s decisions on reward eligibility from judicial or
    administrative review; and
    * establish reward amounts high enough to attract insiders to
    provide high-value information.

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