Policy Responses to Spam

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CitationWhite paper presented to members of the PORTIA project and the Yale Law School Information Society Project, March 9, 2005
AuthorsJames Grimmelman
Rebecca Bolin


Though almost everyone agrees spam is bad, even experts disagree about the correct definition of ``spam.'' Common formulations include one or more of the elements ``unsolicited,'' ``commercial,'' ``bulk,'' and ``email.'' But all of these elements create problems for someone, and there seem be examples of communications that are considered ``spam'' despite not satisfying one or more of these elements. While arriving at an exact definition may not be possible, working through the difficulties should at least provide both a better sense of what is objectionable about spam and also a sense of the complexities involved. This paper explores these questions from both legal and technical perspectives.

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