Thursday 31 May 2007

Soloway Arrested

I guess it's OK to call Robert Soloway a spammer -- he's already been convicted in U.S. civil charges of spamming in 2003.

This time though, he's been arrested on criminal charges, brought by the FTC. The list of laws he's alleged to have broken is extensive:
  • 10 counts of mail fraud
  • 5 counts of wire fraud
  • 5 counts of identity theft (aggravated)
  • 13 counts of money laundering
  • 2 counts of email fraud (the only counts related to the CAN-SPAM Act)
If convicted, the possible penalties add up to a very long time in jail. Aunty Beeb thinks 65 years, but that estimate might be on the high side...

Assuming that he didn't give up spamming in 2003, his arrest (so far without bail) should at the very least cause less spam to be sent (i.e. the spam that would have been sent by him while he's under arrest). If he gets jail time, so much the better.

So far, all the high profile civil spammer convictions have involved fines, with the exception of Jeremy Jaynes. These fines seem on the face of it to be large, but in comparison with the money earned by successful spammers, not so much.

While those convictions increased spammers' fear of getting caught, they also served to publicize the amounts that successful spammers can make -- it may have actually encouraged new spammers to enter the game. That's the law of unintended consequences in action.

This is how the law works. Laws encode a society's terms of acceptable behavior. The credible threat of punishment removes the incentive for bad actors to... well... act badly.

The various laws that prohibit spamming just got much more credible.

More: Seattle PI / TechMeme

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