How do we get spam? Any time we make our e-mail addresses available to the world, we open the door to spam...
How can we avoid spam?
Should there be laws against it? Well, spam is like other forms of unsolicited commercial communication. How do we treat them?
The cost of postal spam is borne almost exclusively by the sender. The financial cost of telemarketing is borne mostly by the sender -- what about cell phones? -- but the receiver bears annoyance cost. The cost of e-mail spam is borne almost exclusively by the receiver, especially when we consider the receiver's Internet service provider.
"But spam is stupid and we don't like it!" Is that a good enough reason to pass a law against an activity?
If we do pass laws, what do we outlaw? Commercial e-mail? Unsolicited commercial e-mail? All unsolicited e-mail?
How can we tell that a particular message is in the category we outlaw?
Maybe we could just require that a sender label all unsolicited e-mail as UNSOLICITED in the Subject: line? Then e-mail programs could filter this mail away from our in-boxes. That won't eliminate the network bandwidth costs of spam, but it will greatly reduce the amount of frustration that receivers face.
How do we enforce the laws, when the spam originates in Sweden or Barbados or China or ...
I told the story about the guy last week defending telemarketers on a CNN call-in show...
Technological solutions: white list, black list, known spam, "smart" filters...
In my small group it was mentioned there are lists that companies sell lists of customers contact information to SPAMers. Also we came up with several methods of stopping SPAM ourselves which were having a separate email account to give out, changing your email address every once in a while or requesting the company to stop sending the emails. We all agreed that they should be laws put into place to stop SPAM from occurring at the rate that it does.
In the large group other forms of SPAMers obtaining our addresses were mentioned they include through surveys that we answer that ask our email addresses and any web page that display your address. To prevent receiving this junk you can also give surveys and companies a fake address. Laws would be difficult to enforce because its hard to track down the person responsible and even if you could they could just move [their e-mail operation] to another country that did not have these laws and send the SPAM from there.
Telemarketing and junk mail were also discussed because these are forms of SPAM too. Junk mail is less of a problem now because it is so expensive and does not occur at the same rate. Telemarketing is being targeted at the present time people find this form very annoying however there are concerns with if it is outlawed lots of people will be out of jobs and under the current law there are still organizations that can call you such as charities and political groups. Almost all the cost of email of SPAM is convenience.
Presentation: There are several different methods companies use to get our email address, one is harvesting programs these are programs that someone writes that uses robots to collect addresses off websites. Another is brute-force attack were companies employ a program that just goes through entering random letters to send mail to. A trap that companies often use is if someone who is receive emails tries to go through the site and request email not be sent to them that company then know that their address is active and the sell it to other companies.
The recommendations that were made to stop this was just to try and ignore it, make address complex, use a filter and not to give out you information so easily. Also there is a website - http://www.junkbusters.com/ -- that can help you stop the emails.
There are several laws pending to try and prevent SPAM from being sent such as opt out options such as the phone one that is taking place and Criminal SPAM Act which is in congress now this act would require jail time for SPAMers.
[Do you feel the same way about other laws? Maybe we don't need laws against stealing. People whose stuff is stolen could just stop complaining and buy more stuff! -- EW]