The Federal Trade Commission's response to spam ["FTC Rejects Creation of No-Spam Registry," front page, June 16] illustrates why government regulation is no substitute for the right to sue. Congress has deprived consumers of the right to sue spammers, and the FTC has failed to provide any substitute remedy.

A cheap alternative would be to turn this nation's tort lawyers loose on the spammers. All it would take is:

* Reinstatement of a consumer's right to sue under negligence or nuisance civil law with an explicit statement of a reasonable standard for certification of a class action.

* A suitable misdemeanor criminal penalty for sending a commercial e-mail without clear contact information, including accurate e-mail, telephone, fax and identification information. The identification informa- tion should be required to include the name of a company incorporated in the United States -- a routine requirement for companies doing business in the United States.

Criminal law can be used to provide a standard for a finding of civil wrong. The objective would be to provide a financial incentive for tort lawyers to bring suit against spammers, including those that operate outside the United States. Legitimate businesses need not fear such a law, because no legitimate business sends letters or e-mail without contact information. Tort lawyers would scour this country for the people with the expertise to develop effective technology to identify abusive e-mailers. The business community likes to think of this country's tort lawyers as a pestilence, but they are a remarkably effective resource when properly applied.




Both Jonathan Krim's article and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) ignore the issue of spam from abroad.

There's big money in lists of e-mail addresses, and a "do-not-spam" list would be sold to the highest bidder in some country that can't or doesn't enforce laws against spam.

Domestic telephone calls still cost something; international phone calls cost too much for telemarketers, but spam ignores national borders and is almost cost-free in any volume.

The place to start in controlling spam would be for domain registries to "delist" the addresses of blatant spammers and their domains, if they serve as their own Internet service providers.


Silver Spring