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22 Jan 2024

Do you need a license to look for spam? Email

Jay Fink had an interesting little business. If you lived in California, you could give him access to your email account, he'd look through the spam folder for spam that appeared to violate the state anti-spam law, and give you a spreadsheet and a file of PDFs. You could then sue the spammers, and if you won, you'd give Fink part of the money as his fee.

While the federal CAN SPAM law largely preempts state laws, it lets states add their own penalties for fraudulent or misleading spam. California is one of the few states with a usable law, and one of the few that lets spam recipients sue in small claims court. The spammers tend to pay to settle rather than going to court (because they are pretty sure they'd lose) so this was a way to make life more difficult for the spammers, paid for by the spammers.

Last July, the state of California shut him down, saying that the stuff he was doing needed a Private Investigator (PI) license. The license is quite expensive and requires 6,000 hours of training in a field like arson investigation or insurance adjustment. Fink thought this was ridiculous, since none of the training would have anything to do with looking for spam, and the requirements were grossly excessive for what he did. He sued the state, supported by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm.

Last week the parties filed the first substantive exchange, in which the state moved to dismiss the case, and Fink's lawyers said not so fast.

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  posted at: 17:56 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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It turns out you don’t need a license to hunt for spam.
112 days ago

A keen grasp of the obvious
Italian Apple Cake
670 days ago

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