Although Unsolicited Bulk Email often goes by the humorous nickname of "spam", the problem is actually becomming quite serious. The practice of sending Email messages to tens or hundreds of thousands of addresses simultaneously is now causing substantial damage to the growth and usefulness of the Internet and there seems to be no end in sight. In fact, the problem may be growing.

Because the technical nature, financial costs and other effects of the Unsolicited Bulk Email are not widely appreciated, I've set aside this section of my web page to throw some light on the nature and extent of the problem.

Although much is often made of the fact that most of the "businesses" that send Unsolicited Bulk Email deal in pornography, pyramid schemes, stock scams and fraudulent diet/nutritional products, the real threat is in how the practice infringes on the rights of those who receive it and how it affects all Internet users...even those who don't actually receive it themselves.

The threat comes from three main directions:

• The loss of Free Speech - Although it is common for bulk emailers to erroneously claim that the prtactice is protected by the first amendment (see note below), Unsolicited Bulk Email is actually reducing the free expression rights of everyone on the Internet.

• Crippling Internet Commerce - And not just because most of the products and services advertised by Unsolicited Bulk Email are scams.

• It's fundamentally Anti-Democratic - because it assumes some Internet users have more rights than others.


"Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen to or view any unwanted communication, whatever its merit....The ancient concept that 'a man's home is his castle' into which 'not even the king may enter' has lost none of its vitality....We therefore categorically reject the argument that a vendor has a right under the Constitution or otherwise to send unwanted material into the home of another. If this prohibition operates to impede the flow of even valid ideas, the answer is that no one has a right to press even 'good' ideas on an unwilling recipient. That we are often 'captives' outside the sanctuary of the home and subject to objectionable speech and other sound does not mean we must be captives everywhere....The asserted right of a mailer, we repeat, stops at the outer boundary of every person's domain."

United States Supreme Court: ROWAN v. U.S. POST OFFICE DEPT. , 397 U.S. 728

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Copyright © Mark Roberts