Post-Conference Report from Copenhagen and Upcoming Conference on E-mail and Spam

I write this from the departure gate at Kastrup Airport in Copenhagen, from which I am returning after presenting my paper "Busting Blocks: Appropriate Legal Remedies For Wrongful Inclusion In Spam Filters Under U.S. Law" at the International Conference on Business, Law and Technology. Not only was the paper well received, but I attended sessions given by attorneys and scholars from throughout the world on issues of Internet law, government policy and the balance between privacy and service. Hearing an attorney from Istanbul discussing content filtering with Microsoft's chief privacy advocate in Europe, a law professor from Nebraska and an attorney from the Netherlands was not only culturally interesting but truly informative. It also served as a helpful balance to my recent online discussions and debates over my paper with anti-spam advocates on the Usenet newsgroup.

My Usenet and similar discussions with spam fighters have strengthened my belief that most end-users have no idea how their inboxes are protected from spam, and therefore are not able to make informed decisions about how stringently those filters and block lists should be applied. While I depend on many of the most popular block lists to keep true spam out of my own inbox, I was surprised at the way some lists expand their listings beyond the senders of spam to "spam-friendly ISPs" and even broaden the listings of the ISPs to convince non-spammer customers to change the ISP's behavior. I admire the collaborative spirit and heroic efforts of some of the major block lists, but continue to advocate for a more professional and objective standard on their part toward listing and delisting.

I will be exploring many of these issues on April 30, 2007, when I host a conference at Touro Law Center's new campus in Central Islip, NY entitled "When Spam Isn't Spam: An Unfiltered Look at Self-Regulation and the Law Behind E-mail." David J. Farber, Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, has graciously agreed to be the afternoon keynote. If you would like any more information on the conference or would like to attend, please e-mail me.

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