...Spam isn't merely unwanted; it's often pornographic or illegal.
"The technology ... has opened up yet another avenue for Americans to fleece each other," says Dan Birchall, executive director of SpamCon Foundation, an antispam group based in San Francisco.
Fortunately, society lies on the verge of controlling the phenomenon. For example, computer users are using filtering software that automatically identifies and throws out junk e-mail. More important, authorities are beginning to crack down on perpetrators. Just over half the states in America have enacted some kind of spam regulation.
Simply sending out an unsolicited message nationwide almost certainly will break the law in two or three states, Mr. Birchall says. "As the big-time players continue to operate the way they're operating, they're in increasing danger of legal action."