Anti-spam laws 'lack bite': "The law is not going to work on its own, but is a stab at setting ethical boundaries for the misuse of e-mail."
Which begs the question - When are laws appropriate?
In fact, I think this breaks down a lot further. We need a system that breaks things up into more discrete control methods:
- Laws to be enforced
- "Guides" or "counsel", which are recommended
- Free interaction, i.e. no straightforward control - effectively an anarchistic domain
The first 2 can be thought of as "MUST" and "SHOULD" terms, for those of you familiar with RFCs. I also think there might be a level between the last 2, but it's not so obvious. The free market attitude, in its purest sense, comes in under the final approach.
More importantly, this allows us to ask what should be classified, and why it should be classified as something, rather than another.
I like to think that, ideally, we should start off with everything in the last category - anarchy. As we progress culturally/socially, certain ideas and thoughts and methods are moved into the second tier. Only things that everyone agrees should be made compulsory are placed into the highest level. Of course, much of this is what we already have. Unfortunately, I think there is a definite tendency to actively promote the top level over the other 2, i.e. that things MUST be controlled, rather than regulated. Or maybe I'm just seeing everything through black-tinted glasses, which is also possible.
However, a system should place as much emphasis on any one layer as it does on the other two, and I think this is the problem we face - that the government is far too eager to make laws than to either offer "assistance", or let things alone. What we need from a centralised body is information collation, a place whose main purpose is basically the sorting of research and study and opinion, before making results available.
There must be books on this kind of thing. I feel like I'm going over thousand-years-old ground...