Kantor: Could Spam Die By Itself?

By Deane Barker on April 20, 2005

Print Story: Andrew Kantor: Could spam die out all by itself? Maybe.: Andrew Kantor has a theory that anti-spam tools will actually win the spam wars. He postulates that after they cross a certain threshold of effectiveness, the spam business model will fall apart.

But spam has a weak spot of sorts. Unlike viruses, which are written out of sheer malice, spam exists because there is profit in it. As the profit goes away, so will the spam.

Spam exists because it makes someone money, directly or indirectly. The long-term benefit of better spam filters won’t be simply keeping spam out of our inboxes, but in rendering the entire spam business model unsustainable.

I think he’s right, but I think tools will have to take drastic measures before they’re effective enough to work — like, for instance, turning us into a whitelist-only world.

When that happens, I could see the spam market dry up, but we’re 10 years out, at least. And by then, the fundamental technical underpinnings of email will probably have changed anyway.



  1. Call me cynical, but unless these super spam filters come from the open source community, I don’t think the people making money ‘filtering’ spam will let spam die so easily. Much like the suspicions some people have of the anti-virus industry.

  2. sigh I was pretty impressed with this site until I saw that comment. Open Source as a business model really sucks if you’re a purist. If you’re releasing your code and charging for support–guess what? you’re still making money from it and there’s an incentive to keep doing it. If you’re not making money from your code, there’s very little incentive to do much with it other than the “warm fuzzy” and buddy, that only lasts so long. Look at the turnover rate in the big projects. The major’s are the bigmouths that we’d all be much better off if they’d be quiet.

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