Penetrating the Zombie Collective: Spam as an International Security Issue

SCRIPT-ed, Vol. 4, 2006

18 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2006

See all articles by Andrea M. Matwyshyn

Andrea M. Matwyshyn

Penn State Law; Penn State Engineering; Stanford University - Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society


Since the mid 1990's, spam has been legally analyzed primarily as an issue of balancing commercial speech with consumers' privacy. This calculus must now be revised. The possible deleterious consequences of a piece of spam go beyond inconvenient speech and privacy invasion; spam variants such as phishing and "malspam" (spam that exploits security vulnerabilities) now result in large-scale identity theft and remote compromise of user machines. The severity of the spam problem requires analyzing spam foremost as an international security issue, expanding the debate to include the dynamic impact of spam on individual countries' economies and the international system as a whole. Spam creation is becoming a flourishing competitive international industry, generating a new race to the bottom that will continue to escalate. Although the majority of spammers reside in the United States and a majority of spam appears to originate in the U.S., spam production is being increasingly outsourced to other countries by U.S. spammers. Similarly, as U.S. authorities begin to prosecute, spammers are moving offshore to less regulated countries. Therefore, spam presents an international security collective action problem requiring legislative action throughout the international system. A paradigm shift on the national and international level is required to forge an effective international spam regulatory regime. Spam regulation should be contemplated in tandem with the development of computer intrusion legislation and privacy legislation, harmonizing all three simultaneously across the international system to form a coherent international data control regime.

Keywords: Spam, internet, regulation, security, privacy

JEL Classification: O30, M55, M30, K42

Suggested Citation

Matwyshyn, Andrea M., Penetrating the Zombie Collective: Spam as an International Security Issue. SCRIPT-ed, Vol. 4, 2006. Available at SSRN:

Andrea M. Matwyshyn (Contact Author)

Penn State Law ( email )

150 S College St
Carlisle, PA 17013
United States

Penn State Engineering ( email )

101 Hammond Building
University Park, PA 16802
United States

Stanford University - Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

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