Spam I Am

A growing number of local crusaders log on to the fight against electronic junk mail.

Elbel says he's watching Seidl's case closely and is also actively supporting a bill now before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Telecommunications. That measure, sponsored by New Jersey Republican Chris Smith, would make spamming a crime. But even if the law passes and Seidl wins his lawsuit, Elbel says spam will likely march on, operated from overseas if necessary.

One of the nation's most visible spam merchants, Sanford Wallace of Philadelphia, agrees. The reason it won't go away, he adds, is that enough people respond to spam that he and other marketers make barrels of money from it.

That financial success keeps Wallace going in the face of vociferous protests from people like Elbel and Oriez--and even the occasional anonymous death threat phoned to his home. "Every time I send something else," he complains, "I have a mob of computer nerds yelling at me."

Wallace admits that the e-mails he sends out are a hassle. But he says they're less invasive than a telemarketing phone call. "It's also less invasive than somebody walking into my living room," responds Elbel. "But what they are invading is my wallet, because I'm paying for that e-mail."

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