Brad Templeton asks Why does it make sense to penalize ISP’s for hosting spammers when most of us would recoil from penalizing them for cutting off users for any of the following

a) Run Gnutella or other P2P software
b) Have a NAT box
c) Have an open wireless LAN
d) Host a web site with indecent material
e) Host a web site with unpleasant political views
f) Host a file which is allegedly a copyright infringement
g) Post messages allegedly violating the copyrights of the Church of Scientology

I’m not entirely sure I agree with Brad about this, but he made me think.

It’s important to make distinctions. One is that copyright holders like the RIAA and the Church of Scientology already have the law on their side and don’t need the help of ISP’s. Another is that there’s a difference between arbitrarily limiting customer’s access to the Net to squeeze more profit out of them and another to refuse to profit from spam.

There’s also a distinction between enforcing limits on the content of a message and the manner in which it is delivered. Sending a message to millions of people who didn’t ask for it and didn’t want it is wrong regardless of the content of the message.