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Hit the merchants, not the postmen
  [vote for,

Spammers are only the messengers. The real a-holes are the merchants that use spammers to flog their wares.

Now that spammers are spoofing the very names of people they spam, retaliation agains the spammers is harder and harder (q.v. spam retaliation, myDoom Spam)

Thus, issue VISA (or master) card holders who express a preference (appox 80%, i'd say) with a parallel "card". This will just be a card number/expiry/security code etc all that is needed for online purchases. No physical card will be issued.

spamVISA will have no credit limit and cannot be used for purchases.

Its number sequence will be unique to the user and indistinguishable from valid numbers.

Any merchant using the number for a bill will be informed as if the limit is exceeded (i.e. they will not know if it is a spamcard number or just some retail junkie)

Central VISA clearing will log all merchants attempting to use spamVISA numbers.

Once a hit rate for declined spamVISA attempts is reached, further spamVISA numbers used by that merchant result in a DEBIT to their payment account -they are fined, though the amounts are withheld until confirmed. As VISA is the central clearing house for payment, it should be possible to withhold other payments to that merchant and thus deny them funds. Once the merchant is investigated and proven ok, the amounts are released. If not, the amounts are withheld "handling charges, dear boy, handling charges..." and the payment facility for the merchant is terminated.

VISA/Master/Diners/Amex (spAmex?) are worldwide and there is no escape.

Card wielders will be rewarded with loyalty points if they participated in defrocking a merchant. They may be deducted/fined for incorrectly using the spamcard on a legit merchant (prevents malicious use).

The aim will be to make spamming an uneconomic activity for merchants.

timbeau, Apr 29 2004


       In principle I enjoy screwing with companies that annoy me, so I like the idea of issuing false credit card numbers. If a company wastes a small amount of time and money processing my bogus order, I see it as just compensation for sending me spam.   

       The main problem I have with this idea is that there is no legitimate basis to fine the merchants. Marketing and advertising products is perfectly legal.
Pernicious Wiles, Apr 29 2004

       i could see this being used for Fraud in it's own right.
engineer1, Apr 29 2004

       Well, [pernicious wiles] I was also considering extending to physical junk mail but then held back.   

       I understand that spammers are being hit using the legal process. Surely then, those who use illegal mechanisms for promoting goods and services should be open to fines and other measures to curb the scourge?   

       [engineer1] The spamVISA could not be used for fraud as a physical card does not exist and the number would not be valid for electronic purchases, as it would be rejected (but noted) by VISA.
timbeau, Apr 29 2004

       Physical junk mail, the kind with the Business Reply Mail prepaid postage, I seal up and send back.   

       At any rate, in your text you are careful to delineate the difference between the merchants who market goods (legal everywhere) and the spammers whose activities may or may not be legal depending on the geographical, legislative, and political circumstances of the day.   

       You may have a case for fining the spammers, but you cannot fine the merchants for the same reason that you can't sue them for showng you television commercials you don't care for.   

       Astonishingly, there appears to be a (disturbing) segment of the population that actually responds to unsolicited adverts for products that promise to cure all, lose weight, and change proportions of the male anatomy. If no one responded to spam, it would cease to exist.
Pernicious Wiles, Apr 29 2004

       [Pernicious Wiles] If schoolbook- embedded advertising were illegal (I hope it is, but, hey...), would we only fine the companies that print them and not the companies that use it as a medium?   

       Stopping spam by attacking the spammers is like trying to stop drugs by arresting pushers. You need to get to the root - the barons, not the channel.   

       Unlike TV advertising, spamming uses my resources - time, money and disk space. Spam is like telesales that call collect when the sponsor has specifically asked them to call collect to save money.   

       Just because there is no legal precedent, does not mean that activity is wrong or a legal device should not exist for tackling it.
timbeau, Apr 30 2004

       the fraud i suspect may happen is for sites that require a credit card number or somesuch for age verification etc
engineer1, Apr 30 2004


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