Spam! What is it and why is it bad? As most of you know, spam is electronic mail sent directly to addresses usually found from browsing usenet postings, internet mailing lists or from your email addresses being rented or sold. These messages may seem harmless at first glance but they actually cost the reciepient and the ISP money in disk space, bandwidth, the cost of regular maintance and wear on software and hardware, and most importantly--time lost. Ferris Research found it will cost U.S. companies more than $60 billion this year due to lost productivity and the additional equipment, software and manpower needed to combat spam. On top of that, the real problem with spam, in my opinion, is that it clutters up the reputation of the internet with the idea of scams, unethical pitches, and get rich quick schemes.
The How-To Guide
Here is a list that, if followed, can reduce the ammount of spam you personally recieve and some things you can do to possibly prevent it from appearing in the first place. Know ahead of time that it is really hard to prevent spam from entering your life, but there are some things you can do to put yourself in a better place to limit and reduce spam.
- Never post your email in usenet groups--or anywhere else for that matter--where outside persons have access to it. This is a sure way of telling people where to find you and many spammers have software that searches this information out purposfully.
- If you have a website, be careful how you use your mailto: references. There are software programs also designed to snatch these little tags up and drop them in a database where soon you will be one of thousands of names they've acquired in less than an hour.
- Some states have laws that regulate unsolicited email. At this point those states include: Arkansas, Arizona, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming
- Find out what your rights are and take action. These anti-spam laws were proposed and implemented for your protection.
- File a complaint with the spammer's ISP. To do this you will need to find out where the email came from. You can do this by reading the header information in the email.
- If the spam involves fraudulent or deceptive practices, you can forward it to email@example.com for the Federal Trade Commission to document and keep in their database.
- Contact your congressional representative. If you do not know who that is click here. Let them know that unsolicited email is a problem that needs to be dealt with. Many bills are now being propsed and it is a good time to figure out which ones are just fluff written by unwitting politicians and which ones should be supported in an effort to actually end the problem that is a nuisance to quite literally billions of people worldwide.
Here are some bills that are currently up for discussion. You can find out more about what they present by clicking on them.
- Burns-Wyden "CAN SPAM Act"
- The RID Spam Act
- The Schumer Bill
- The Anti-Spam Act of 2003
- The Ban on UCE Act of 2003
- Criminal Spam Act of 2003
- Reduce Spam Act of 2003
- Wireless Telephone Spam Protection Act
- Computer Owners Bill of Rights
Please do what you can to get in touch with your representatives and let them know which bills you support!