2004 saw Bill Gates make an infamous prediction, CAN-SPAM came into play and is immediately criticized by those who must enforce it, DomainKeys & Sender ID battle it out in a popularity contest, and penis enlargement pills may not work as advertised. Scott Richter appears on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, debates a spam cop, and goes into the shmata business. None end well.

January 2004
January 01, 2004 CAN-SPAM came into effect. Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig calls it "an abomination at the federal level"

AOL notes that they blocked half a trillion spam emails from their systems in 2003

Bill Gates proclaims that the spam problem will be solved in two years. Penny Black, charging spammers for each mail they send, revealed.

"Re-imagining the Ordovician Gothic: Fossils from the Golden Age of Spam" goes on display in New York

The Anti-Spam Research Group (ASRG) of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) continues work on new technical standards to stop spam.

Mydoom virus released into the wild.

February 2004
The Federal Trade Commission calls CAN-SPAM "a mild deterrent"

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development begins work against spam

The Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) published a survey noting that 52% of consumers were using the Internet less due to spam.

The words "Berkshire", "Marriott", "wireless", "touch" and "comment" are found to help bypass Baysean anti-spam filters.

Jeffrey Horton of Colorado files a class action lawsuit against DM Contact Management Ltd., a British Columbia corporation, Leading Edge Marketing Inc., a British Columbia corporation, Advanced Botanicals, Ltd., a British Columbia Corporation, Leading Edge Marketing Inc., a Bahamas corporation Leading Edge Marketing Inc., a Cyprus company,  Leading Edge Marketing Inc., a dissolved Colorado corporation, Technhpak, Llc, a Colorado limited liability company, and Unipay Processing, Ltd., a Cyprus company and Geoffrey M. Mackay, Andrew A. Mackay, Douglas R. Mackay, Mark D. Scheidt, Matthew Clayton, and Warren S. Brander. He claims the penis enlargement pills sold through DM Contact Management, VigRX, do not work as advertised.

TurnTide garners $1,100,000 in financing for their anti-spam router

AOL sues Charles Henry Miller, Jonathan Beyer, Joseph Conrad and Connor Miller Software under CAN-SPAM..

Earthlink sues Rockin Time Holdings, Damon DeCrescenzo and David Burstyn under CAN-SPAM.

Microsoft deploys ‘caller ID for email‘.

Sophos says America is the source of half the spam on the Internet.

Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path notes that valid email tagged as spam, false positives are ‘a real problem’; a study shows 20% of legitimate email never makes it to the inbox.

March 2004
EarthLink, MSN, Yahoo! and AOL note that they each filter 2 billion pieces of spam, daily.

Scott Richter appears on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Clitorious cream sales fail to spike.

Hypertouch files the first-ever CAN-SPAM suit against BVWebTies dna BobVila.com and its marketing affiliate BlueStream Media

Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo! and Earthlink file coincidental CANSPAM suits against spammers. Yahoo’s suit is against Canadians Eric Head, Matthew Head, and Barry Head, the unfortunately-named Head Gang.

AOL begins preventing their members from connecting to spammed websites

AOL gives away a 2002 Porsche Boxster won in spam settlement to 73 year-old Charles S. Chase.

April 2004
The EU issues a final warning to France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands and Portugal for failure to create anti-spam laws in keeping with the EU directive.

Sasser worm released into the wild, taking Delta Airlines offline

Spamhaus applies to ICANN to develop the .mail TLD.

Buffalo spammer Howard Carmack found guilty in New York, sentenced to 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison for identity theft

Scott Richter comes out with a SPAM clothing line

Sendmails Corp. deploys VirtualMDA, offering to pay users to spam on behalf of others.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission files its first CAN-SPAM suit against Christopher Chung, Daniel Lin, James Lin, and Mark Sadek. Chung and Sadek are arrested.

May 2004
Canadian Industry Minister Lucienne Robillard announced the formation of a task force to combat spam. CAUCE is heavily involved in the process.

Microsoft begins using IronPort’s Bonded Sender as whitelist on inbound email.

Yahoo! releases DomainKeys technical specification

Symantec acquires Brightmail.

An FTC rule requiring a subject line tag "SEXUALLY EXPLICIT" for dirty emails goes into effect.

Spammer Scott Richter and SpamCop’s Julian Haight, whom Richter sued for blocking his mail, debate.

Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee calls for more enforcement of the CAN-SPAM act. McCain is never heard from again.

Accused child rapist and spammer Ronnie Scelson claims he is ‘100% legal’ with CAN-SPAM but driven ‘underground’.

"CAN-SPAM was the right bill at the right time for all the right reasons," said Ted Leonsis, vice chairman of America Online. Consumers Union president James Guest disagrees.

Microsoft hires private detectives to become part of their anti-spam research team.

June 2004
Washington state wins the appeal filed by Jason Heckel. Heckel is ordered to pay a $2,000 fine for spamming. And $96,197 in legal costs.

Comcast blocks port 25 on their systems, they are the first ISP of any significant size to do so.

Singapore considered draft spam laws.

Microsoft merges ‘caller ID for email’ scheme with Sender Policy Framework (SPF), SenderID born.

Maryland invokes new anti-spam legislation.

MAPS becomes a division of Kelkea, Inc. Unofficially, the day the music died.

Nucleus Research says spam costs employers $1,934 per employee annually

Microsoft files suit against "8 spammers"

The Direct Marketing Association’s Jerry Cersale discusses CAN-SPAM, the legal comb-over,  on the Washington Post website

Scott Richter issued legal threat by Hormel to cease and desist use of their trademark, SPAM. Richter’s clothing line folds.

Microsoft and Yahoo! agree to try DomainKeys and SenderID, respectively. They don’t, really.

The Anti-Spam Technical Alliance (ASTA) forms,  with membership from Microsoft, Yahoo!, AOL, Earthlink, British Telecom, and Comcast. ASTA eventually becomes MAAWG.org

A Russian teenager becomes the first person convicted in Russia for spamming.

20% of U.S. residents admit buying products advertised in spam.

July 2004
The United Nations wants to standardize anti-spam laws.

The US, UK and Australia sign a memorandum of understanding for international anti-spam investigation cooperation, in what eventually leads to the formation of the LondonActionPlan.org

A California court finds Daniel Khoshnood and Pointcom guilty of spamming, Microsoft wins a $4,000,000 settlement.

Scott Richter and OptInRealBig.com agreed to pay a $40,000 fine for spamming and $10,000 toward the investigative cost to the state of New York

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) notes a dramatic drop in Australian spam since their opt-in anti-spam law was adopted.

Verizon Wireless files suit against Jacob Brown and 50 unidentified individuals for mobile spamming.

The Federal Trade Commission files suit against Creaghan A. Harry, winning a TRO to shut his spamming activities down.

August 2004
AOL buys Mailblocks, who had previously sued Earthlink for patent violation.

Pfizer begins legal pursuits against Viagra spammers

The OECD set up an anti-spam task force.

Microsoft holds a meeting with the E-Mail Service Provider Coalition to convince them to use Sender ID

Cisco acquires anti-spam unknown start-up P-Cube for $200,000,000.

Vundo worm aka the Virtumundo worm is released into the wild.

The Australian Prime Minister spams his constituents via loophole in the anti-spam law.

Eileen Harrington, associate director of the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer protection bureau discusses CAN-SPAM with the Washington Post readers.

September 2004
The Apache Software Foundation and the Debian Project reject the Microsoft Sender ID standard. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) follows suit. The IETF subsequently disbands the MARID anti-spam group.

Savvis disgorges itself of spammers, after a member of their postmaster team, Alif Terranson submits a 200-page report to management, then Spamhaus. Spamhaus shows them the error of their ways.

Microsoft files suit against Cheapbulletproof.com, and nine others.

Microsoft and Amazon file against Gold Disk Canada (The Head Gang, against whom Yahoo! filed earlier in the year) for phishing. Canada continues to study the problem.

Microsoft files a lawsuit against Leonid Radvinsky, Activsoft Inc. and Cybertania Inc.

The FTC suggests congress consider putting a bounty of spammers’ heads to better secure public cooperation which they feel is lacking.

October 2004
In the another round of CAN-SPAM lawsuits, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo! and Earthlink file coincidental lawsuits against spammers, mostly John Does. Yahoo!’s suit names East Coast Exotics Entertainment Group Inc. and Epoth LLC

The London Action Plan is kicked off with 27 countries present, China promises to support the initiative.

AOL says it might love Microsoft’s Sender ID, after all.

The trial of Jeremy Jaynes, his sister Jessica DeGroot and Richard Rutkowski vs. AOL begins

November 2004
Jeremy Jaynes found guilty, sentenced to nine years in prison, Jessica DeGroot fined $7,500, Richard Rutkowski acquitted.

Yahoo! deploys DomainKeys in earnest on outbound mail.

Former Spam King Sanford Wallace found guilty of distributing spyware

Microsoft spams Bob Poortinga, who tells the Washington Post about it.

Delf-HA Trojan released into the wild, has SMS spam payload.

FTC holds ‘Authentication Summit’. Companies asked to ‘work together’. Kumbaya not sung.

Earthlink deploys Yahoo!-championed authentication scheme DomainKeys on outbound mail.

Lycos Europe deploys a screensaver that launches distributed denial of service attacks against spammer sites.

December 2004
SPAMCON Foundation President Laura Atkins determines that after a year in play CAN-SPAM is ineffective.

Microsoft files more John Doe CAN-SPAM suits against spammers for breaking Sexually Explicit provision of CAN-SPAM.

The Maryland anti-spam law is deemed unconstitutional; case against Joseph Frevola dismissed.

Bloggers note an uptick in blog comment spam. A new channel comes of age.

Former AOL engineer Jason Smathers pleads guilty to stealing 92,000,000 screen names and email accounts. His plea is rejected by the judge.

AMP Dollar Savings Inc., Cash Link Systems Inc.and TEI Marketing Group ordered to pay a total on $1,000,000,000,000 (one billion) fine to Robert Kramer owner of Iowa-based ISP CIS. Business Week writes up the case.