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Ban Spam

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Ban Spam

It is a new day at the office, and workers are getting online to check their electronic mail, only to find that it has been over run by unsolicited junk mail. This mail, more commonly referred to as spam has been around since the beginning of the Internet, and according to a recent article, as the Internet has grown, so has spam ("Spam Spam" E.L.) A recent study by Star Internet, based on the typical number of staff spending ten minutes a day checking their mail, indicates that spam costs companies in the U.K. 472 dollars a year per worker, and on a national scale, spam costs U.K. firms 4.6 billion dollars a year (Gold F.A.). This is just one reason why bulk unsolicited (spam) e-mail is costly, time consuming, and should be banned.

The term spam for unsolicited e-mail is believed to have originated from a Monty Python skit in which the dialogue was drowned out by shouting out the word "spam"("How to Avoid" F.A.). This is much the way spam drowns out other messages in in-boxes.

Although spam is a problem for businesses, it is certainly not limited to them. A large amount of spam mail is targeted at anyone who has an e-mail address, and many adults are therefore concerned at some of the content that is sometimes received with these inconvenient messages. Some spam messages may contain explicit content, such as subject headers that display sexually explicit words and phrases that may be unsuitable for children who have access to the Internet.

Even though spam can contain some sexually explicit material, there are generally twelve spam scams that seem to be popular. According to one article, many spam messages may contain promises of business opportunities, making money scams, work-at-home schemes, health and diet scams, easy money, getting free merchandise, chain letters, getting free merchandise, investment opportunities, cable scrambler kits, guaranteed loans or credit with easy terms, credit repair, and vacation prize promotions (Gardner E.L.). These are the most popular, but certainly not the only spam scams that are out there today.

There are many ways to receive spam mail, or get on a spammer's list. Many times, e-mail addresses that are given out while filling out forms over the Internet end up on a spammer's list. According to one article, this is generally because spammers use special harvesting software for retrieving e-mail addresses, and many times there isn't a privacy policy that prevents companies from giving out e-mail addresses to other companies. Another popular way to end up on a spamming list is simply by subscribing to newsletters online ("How to Avoid" F.A.)

Although spam is generally unwanted by the public, many companies like the idea of spam. According to Dana Gardner, "One person's spam is another's marketing triumph". Many companies see spam as a very easy and cheap way of advertising, and therefore would like to see it around in the future. Steve Whitney, a business development manger at PriceWaterHouseCoopers says, " Sometimes there is stuff you want to hear about." Although he later goes on to say, " I wish I could filter out the other stuff, but I'd still prefer [no spam] to getting it at all" ("Spam Has Choicer" E.L.).

There may be those few who don't mind spam or even prefer it, but the majority of the public would still like to see it done away with. In a survey given by the IT Chiefs, 55% said ban spam, 42% said yes to keeping it around, and 3% didn't know (Adshead F.A.). As you can see from this survey, over half of the majority despises spam, and there are many good reasons why.

The public, for a number of different reasons, despises spam. Jodie Bernstein, the bureau director at the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection in Washington says," Spam is a problem for practically everyone with a computer. It's annoying, it slows down the e-mail system and a lot of it is fraudulent" (Gardner E.L.). According to one article, spam can distract people from genuine messages that may be important, it can increase peoples' telephone bills by having to spend more time online sifting through unsolicited mail, and it can use up valuable storage space on computers. Some people feel that it is not that big of a deal to sift through a little bit of extra mail, but spam mail goes a lot deeper than just using up the public's personal time. At times when people are unable to connect to the Internet, or download speeds slow down, spam could be the cause. Spam can also cause Internet service providers to raise prices due to increased traffic that is caused by sending large amounts of spam. Spam can also contain viruses that may be damaging to files or programs on computers ("How to Avoid" F.A.).

There are many actions being taken in the United States, as well as other countries, to fight against the sending of spam. According to an article by Brian Krebbs, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is beginning to focus on spam for a law enforcement investigation. The focus is primarily on consumer privacy online and offline. This would require that the DMA get consent before sending spam, and lending e-mail addresses to third parties. One spam bill was recently passed by the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which would make a fine of $500 per spam message, and gives the public the ability to sue spammers (Krebs G.N.).

In the United Kingdom, actions are being taken by the European Parliament to cut down on spam and cookies. The purpose of this is also to safe guard Union Citizens' privacy rights. This would require that E.U. based direct marketers ask consumer consent before sending spam or cookies. The only downfall is that even if this were implemented, there would be nothing to stop companies in the United States from sending spam to E.U. citizens (MacMillan G.N.).

In Japan, a large breakthrough in the fight against spam was made. A wireless Internet service headed by DoComo, which has about 28 million subscribers, is able to block e-mail that it classifies as spam. Customers were outraged to have to download spam messages and then pay for them. It was also outraging DoComo, because it was costing him money as well for all of the spam on his network. In addition to being able to block e-mails that he feels are spam messages, other spam measures let users look at the subject headers before downloading any messages (Creed F.A.).

Even though there are many measures being taken around the world to fight spam, Japan is really the only country that has had a major breakthrough or success against it. The United States allows people



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