Luca Belli (17/12/2021). Spam. In Belli, L.; Zingales, N. & Curzi, Y. (Eds.), Glossary of Platform Law and Policy Terms (online). FGV Direito Rio. https://platformglossary.info/spam/.
Author: Luca Belli
The concept of ‘spam’ refers to any kind of unsolicited digital communication that is usually dispatched in bulk. Hence spam is any messages sent to multiple recipients who did not ask for them.
As pointed out by the Internet Society (2018)1, the main problems caused by spam are due to the combination of the unsolicited and bulk aspects; the quantity of unwanted messages swamps messaging systems and drowns out the messages that recipients do want.
The first example of Spam was sent via the ARPANET in 1978. The spam was an advertisement for a new model of computer from Digital Equipment Corporation and it created a strong precedent as the communication succeeded in increasing the purchase of advertised equipment.
Some legislation, such as EU Directive 2000/31/EC2 on electronic commerce, utilizes the concept of ‘unsolicited electronic communications’, which cover most sorts of ‘spam’ but leaves out all politically motivated unsolicited communications.
Importantly, the use of ‘electronic communications’ is intended to cover not only traditional SMTP – based ’email’ but also SMS and any form of electronic messages for which the simultaneous participation of the sender and the recipient is not required.
- Internet Society. (2018). What is spam? Available at: https://www.internetsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/What20Is20Spam_0.pdf.
- Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market. EU Directive on electronic commerce, OJ L 178/1, 17.7.2000. Available at: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32000L0031&from=en.