Is the Death Penalty a Severe Penalty for Sending Spam?
Maybe the death penalty is too strong for just sending junk Email. Then again, in a way spammers have taken the lives of others. In reports of the recent arrest of 27 year old "Spam King" Robert Alan Soloway, it's revealed that he may be responsible for as many as billions of junk messages over just several days. (Information Week * C|Net News) Information Week says spam went down about 8% over the next several days post arrest; though of course it's hard to say if that's directly causal.
In any case, he may face multiple charges of fraud of various types earning him up to 75 years in prison. But is that enough? Think it thorough. Lets say he's responsible for 5% of spam over several years, that's over $450 million in lost costs per year. (According to collated statistics at the Spam Filter Review, the combined cost to private and public is in excess of US $9 BILLION.)
So? Why Kill Him?
According to the Economic Statistics Briefing Room of the White House, (based on census data), the U.S. Median Income in 2006 was $46,326. Depending on how you count, there's about 2,000 work hours in a year. So that's an average wage of about $23.16 an hour. (Yes, I realize minimum wage is much lower. But it's an an average calculation based on a median income number.) Anyway, that works out to in excess of 19 Million person hours of wasted time. Wikipedia's Longevity article puts current first world human lifespan at 77-83 years. Lets call it 80. Rounding down a bit, that's about 700 thousand hours per human life.
In other words, our nemesis Robert Alan is directly responsible for sucking the equivalent of almost 28 full human lifetimes of value from the planet. (Yes, I'm assuming any spam handling related activities provide no value to any of the victims.)
28 Counts of Murder
Outside the context of a legal war, anyone who took 28 lives would very likely be put to death. (Well, they'd be put interminably on death row anyway.)
So I'm just saying that maybe the death penalty is not too strong.
More Realistically: No Smokes
Obviously, we're not going to kill someone for sending junk Email. (Though to be sure, plenty of people have been killed for less.) But perhaps this sort of perspective lends good argument as to why a 75 year sentence, (essentially life for a 27 year old), may be warranted. Spam Email is not merely an insidious annoyance. It's something that can drastically erode a great deal of value from the lives of others. Whatever funds this guy has generated ought to be seized and offered to whatever agencies prosecute cyber crimes. This has a dual benefit. Appropriate use of seized funds, and he won't be able to afford enough cigarettes to trade for a private shower.
Enjoy prison Robert!