Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(February 2003)

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Subject: Re: [Fwd: EFF Mailing List Query]
From: Rich Kulawiec <rsk @ gsp . org>
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2003 13:51:47 -0500
To: list-managers @ greatcircle . com
In-reply-to: <3E590776 . 7050601 @ vo . cnchost . com>
References: <3E583DD9 . 8030705 @ vo . cnchost . com> <20030223142626 . GA20724 @ gsp . org> <3E590776 . 7050601 @ vo . cnchost . com>
User-agent: Mutt/1.4i

Let me make something clear: I support a number of the EFF's positions.
I think they've done some good.  I think they are trying to do some good
in other areas, with success/failure TBD at a later date.

I am, however, very disappointed in their weak anti-spam position.
They do not seem to have grasped yet that the largest threat to online
free speech is spam and that therefore spammers and their supporters are
the mortal enemy of everyone who values online free speech.  They have
not yet -- as far as I can tell -- focused on the core of the problem:
spammers/spam-supporters, and have instead focused on the secondary
after-effects, such as erroneous blocking/filtering.  IMNSHO, this is
nibbling around the edges of the problem rather than attacking it at
the center.

I would expect to see, for example, the EFF strongly denouncing the
astroturf campaign covered here:

which is nothing more than a coalition of spammers unhappy that netizens
are finding ways (some good, some not-so-good) to defend themselves.

I would expect to see the EFF strongly supporting major antispam blacklists.

I would expect to see the EFF strongly critizing large spam operations.

I would expect to see the EFF organizing boycotts of ISPs which refuse
to remove their spammers.

I would expect all these things (and more) because I view them all as
steps toward ensuring the continued viability of email as a communications
medium -- free speech doesn't mean squat if the medium by which it's
exercised doesn't work.

Obviously, my expectations haven't been met and probably aren't going to
be met.  Thus my disappointment.  Others, who have different expectations,
may be more or less disappointed, as they see fit. <shrug> So be it.

But it is worth remembering that (to pick a quasi-random point in time)
ten years ago we didn't have to face this issue: erroneous spam-blocking
was almost unknown.  The difference between now and then -- and the
blame for it -- lies solely with spammers and their supporters, who
have made the situation so bad that even poor solutions look reasonable
to people who are desperate for relief.  That sucks all the way around,
especially when some of people peddling anti-spam "solutions" are spammers
themselves.  But here we are.


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