TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Getting Serious About the War on Spam

Re: Getting Serious About the War on Spam

Bob Goudreau (
Wed, 20 Apr 2005 23:08:58 -0400

Paul Vader wrote:

>>> 'authority' for specific functionalities of the greater Internet,
>>> _none_ of them have any authority with regard to the 'content' of
>>> packets.

>> Well then, who IS responsible to do the job? If no such job
>> exists, why isn't one created?

> A) Why would anyone living in a free country want controls on what people
> can say?
> B) Do you really misunderstand the internet so badly that you think that
> there's any place you COULD create controls?
> C) Who says what's allowable or not? I vote for NOBODY.

Well said!

This thread reminds me of something Arkady Shevchenko touched on in
his early 1980's book _Breaking_with_Moscow_, in which he recounts his
experience as a high-level defector from the Soviet Union. He
described a school of thought to which certain members of the Soviet
'nomenklatura' belonged to. This group believed that just as the
Soviet economy was all controlled and directed by the government
central planning agency called GOSPLAN, that a similar (but apparently
very top secret!) economic planning agency must exist to run the US
economy at a similar or even deeper level of detail. Given that the
American economy was so much larger and more dynamic than the Soviet
one, this agency must therefore be worth copying/stealing secrets
from/etc.! A non-trivial amount of intelligence effort was
subsequently expended trying to ferret out details of this supposed
American counterpart to GOSPLAN.

Of course, those spying efforts came to naught, because (to paraphrase
Gertrude Stein) "there was no there there"; no government agency in
Washington was in charge of deciding every little low-level economic
detail such as how many shoes must be made this week or how many tons
of coal must be mined next month in order to meet the Five Year Plan.
But to the adherents of this belief, steeped in nothing but their own
experiences of rigid centralized control of everything, it was simply
inconceivable that an economy with *no one at all* in charge could not
only work, but indeed actually work much *better* than one run in a
top-down fashion by a select group of alleged economic experts.

And so it is with the internet. It turns out that just letting
different private networks work out for themselves the terms of how
they wanted to connect (or not) with other such networks became far
more attractive to customers than the old centrally controlled "walled
garden" private commercial networks that were around in the early
1980s (Compuserve, the original AOL, etc.) No one is "in charge" of
the internet, any more than someone is "in charge" of a market

Yes, both of them need a certain amount of rules in order to function
(e.g., consensus on which currencies/protocols are popular enough to
merit being used to exchange value/data; rights to own physical
property/address numbering and name-space resources; rules against
fraudulent behavior that would deprive someone of their property,
etc.) But you can't go too crazy with the rules, or else you end up
either with rules that don't/can't get enforced (see: Prohibition, or
the "CAN-SPAM" act) or you have to implement such an onerous
overweening system of control that you lose the benefits of the free
exchange of property/data (see: the North Korean economy, or the
rigidly-controlled Chinese internet).

Bob Goudreau
Cary, NC

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