Spam and Beyond: Freedom, Efficiency, and the Regulation of E-mail Advertising


Richard Warner


VOL. XXII • Fall 2003 • NO. 1 (table of contents)

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Traditional forms of mailing advertisers bear the full cost of delivering advertisements to consumers. However, this is not true in the form of all e-mail advertisement, spam or not. E-mail users subsidize part of any e-mail advertisement, thereby splitting costs between advertiser and the consumer who receives the e-mail advertisement.

This article takes the position that the subsidization that occurs in e-mail advertisement should be eliminated because it unjustifiably violates individual freedom. The article discusses why the delivery charges between sender and recipient are divided, why such cost-division violates freedom, and whether the violation is justified. The article also defines spam and discusses why the sending of spam unjustifiably violates freedom. A statute is proposed to redress that situation. Non-spam advertisement is discussed, also with the stance that non-spam advertisement is also unjustifiably violates freedom and a second statute is suggested to remedy the situation. Finally, the article concludes with the question of how approaches to spam ought to be applied to non-advertising e-mail.

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