Dec. 08, 2004 - Issue #477: Bukowski
Please, spammers, don’t hurt ‘em
Earlier this week, Lycos Europe announced the release of a screensaver that uses your computer’s idle time to clog the bandwidth of known spamming sites in order to “punish” the web’s more notorious spamming companies by driving up the costs of operating these sites. The download site, makelovenotspam.com, proved to be a popular one with the general public; Lycos reported more than 100,000 downloads of the program before some spammer hacked the website and brought it crumbling down. Not entirely unexpected, I suppose. But what was unexpected, at least in my eyes, was the amount of negative press Lycos received for their efforts, and which eventually forced Lycos to leave the website offline and abandon the project altogether.
Considering that the only function of Lycos’s software is to perform a task that maliciously attacks their livelihood, it’s understandable that a few spammers were going to get upset. But, strangely, joining in on the chorus of boos that rang through the internet media was the nonprofit antispamming organization Spamhaus, who issued a public statement over the weekend condemning Lycos, saying “You can’t break into a thief’s house just because he breaks into yours.”
Oh, please. That one should not stoop to the level of one’s enemies is indeed a noble and admirable rule to live by—but it’s also hopelessly naïve. After all, a big part of the reason that the Democrats keep losing elections down south is that they are morally unwilling to fight dirty, to turn the Republican’s tactics against them. So why shouldn’t the public be allowed to attack spamming websites? Is it offside? Sure. Does it increase meaningless traffic and slow down servers? Absolutely. But it works.
For the first time, this application seems to actually be able to stop spammers where those e-mail filters and “unsubscribe” lists and unenforceable spam laws have failed. Spamming is a dirty industry that exists only to glut inboxes, waste bandwidth and storage space, and which goes to great lengths to find ways to bob and weave through every e-mail defense we can think up. Spammers will always fight dirty, and the way to respond isn’t by going through the proper channels; we too have to be able to cheat if we’re ever going to win.
And surely there aren’t too many people in the world who would shed a tear if a handful of these companies were to go out of business. V
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