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April 17, 2009

Shouldn’t the EPA Regulate Spam, Too?

Category: Companies,Save Electricity,Technology – Tom Harrison – 5:20 pm

GreenTech Media has a good post on how email spam wastes more than just your time — it wastes electricity! Oh, and not just a little, according to the report: enough to power 2.4 Million homes — that’s about 2% of the households in the US. Yikes.

Sounds like a job for the EPA, to me.

Ok, so as a computer guy, I can attest that there are no people that like spam (except the few people that are actually creating them … and, yes the companies like McAfee that make anti-virus programs, and coincidentally sponsored the study). Spam emails are the main way that viruses spread. Viruses slow down your computer. Massive amounts of bandwidth are consumed by spam. Guys like me spend lots of time making sure that spammer don’t get their messages through. Companies like Microsoft lose reputations by failing to deal with spam. It’s more than just an annoyance.

But spam is a tough nut to crack. The design goals of the Internet include being “distributed” — any computer connected can participate and become part of it, and because there is no single actual place, the Internet is, in effect, everywhere. However while not strictly anonymous, it’s next to impossible to track down the originators of spam (and viruses). And when we do, the perpetrators tend to be in places like Russia. So far, the FBI and CIA haven’t had much luck nailing these guys.

But now that I see that Lisa Jackson and the EPA are re-recognizing that CO2 is a pollutant, and because the new EPA is a kick-ass organization, I have a modest proposal: let the EPA come down on spammers as polluters!

Needless to say, the EPA does not have the mission or capacity to identify the spammers. So instead, I think they should simply shut down the major ISPs who allow what is clearly identifiable spam through to their users. I propose that we start with AOL/Time Warner, who this week announced that they needed to charge more for their service because they were running out of bandwidth (that means “amount of stuff they can send”). And according to Microsoft, 95% of emails sent are spam.

I say, sick the EPA on ’em. If they closed down AOL/Time Warner, and a few other, poor, starving ISPs like Comcast, I’ll bet they would very quickly figure out how to eliminate spam. Doncha think?

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