Thursday, 19 April, 2001

Spam Happenings

I picked this one up on slashdot.  A woman in California sued a company called in small claims court for sending commercial unsolicited email.  You can read her story, or view the entire slashdot thread.  Nobody got rich:  she was awarded $50 plus $27.50 in court costs.  With Kozmo gone the way of the dodo, it's likely she'll never see any of it.  She and the anti-spam crowd are calling it a moral victory.

Isn't it funny that the most vocal spam busters are also the loudest voices screaming for anonymity protection?  It's OK to clog message boards and email boxes with anonymous unsolicited crap, but any commercial exercise of that privilege should be against the law?  It sounds to me like these people want the right to say whatever their hearts desire with impunity, but don't want the inconvenience of having to filter through other peoples' garbage.  The California anti-spam laws apply specifically to unsolicited commercial emails, which I take to mean that it's OK to send non-commercial spam.  So the anti-spammers' real enemy is business, not spam?  I know that isn't the case, but a superficial read of the situation could lead one to that conclusion.

Hormel, the maker of SPAM Luncheon Meat, has gotten into the act by publishing a note that doesn't really endorse the use of the term "spam" to describe unsolicited commercial email, but does say:  "We do not object to use of this slang term to describe UCE, although we do object to the use of our product image in association with that term."

I agree that spam is a nuisance, and I'd sure like not having to worry about it.  In my case, email filters make it much less of a nuisance, and the few messages that get past my filters are easy enough to delete.  It's certainly no more of a problem for me than the junk that the postman delivers every day.  But it's apparently a huge problem on the Internet:  clogging mail servers and wasting bandwidth.  Legislation isn't the way to combat it, though.  Getting governments involved will undoubtedly lead to more problems than solutions.

How to combat spam? is the definitive anti-spam site.  Read and take action.  But please leave government out of it.