That Pesky and Obnoxious Spam...|
Posted: July 11th. 1999
Times Viewed: 39,272
Computers are wonderful things. They have helped us to get organized and enabled us to become more effective and efficient. This is what they are designed for and this is what they live to accomplish. We save tons of time by automatically balancing our checkbook, bookmarking long URLs and thousands of other daily tasks that seemingly are designed to waste our time.
Theoretically, computers are supposed to free up your time and so allow you to capitalize on your human strengths. Viva-la Creativity and Originality! Sadly there are folks that attempt to hold back the tide of your effectiveness. These takers are a creative and greedy lot and their latest venture is called...
Spam or Unsolicited email!
Oh, you are familiar with the email that you didn't request coming into your mailbox from someone that you don't know? Well, since you have already been introduced then, you can just call it 'spam'.
Spam is rude, assumptive and doesn't really care about you. It attacks you at your front door, mailbox, telephone, fax machine and computer. It prays/counts on your good nature. It's a numbers game, it infuriates millions of us and it is coming to a head.
An angry online society is losing patience with this nightmare. Our own AOL account is a hopeless situation. 'No, we don't want to see your pictures. No, we don't need more toner supplies. My television reception is just fine, thank you for asking.' (If you have an AOL account you know what I mean.)
Why is the Internet so Slooooow?
JUNK Email IS a major contributor to the sluggishness of the entire internet. When "Joe Marketing" sends out his/her latest "get rich" scheme via a million piece emailing, the giant internet pathway turns into a clogged sewer pipe.
Our Witches' of the World pages have been attacked on several occasions by the takers...
We accept each and every name submitted to us with the promise that we will NOT allow anyone to use the list (including ourselves) for anything other than information related to the Witches Voice (as in our quarterly global emailing). We also state that we will not sell these names to a commercial interest or take advantage of "this collection" in order to allow anyone to "do what's good for you".
Since our inception there has been a half a dozen cases of email theft and unsolicited mailings for products and "services" directly to names and email addresses stolen from our WOTW pages.
They aren't YOUR email addresses for your business, group or cause. Don't Steal them. Not at WitchVox and Not at any site or list.
The Witches of the World pages at WitchVox ARE provided for ONE on ONE personal networking.
We believe that the customer will approach you *if* they interested in what you are offering. The Witches' Voice has a rich 3 year history of promoting all aspects of the Pagan community. We offer numerous ways to promote your products, services, web sites, chat boards, email lists, events, causes, shops and just about anything else you can think of.
Can we stop people from doing this? Not completely. Thus far we have been able to deal with those that have helped themselves to our email listings. But these "negotiations" fritter away much of our time. If you found yourself waiting for a feature, etc. here at the Voice, it may have been delayed due to this.
Fight back and fight hard!
Webcrafter -- Witchvox
July 12th., 1999 c.e.
Inspired by recent frustration with this issue Wren has gathered some powerful information
about what Spam is, dispels the Spammer's Myth and offers ways
you can fight this obnoxious insult to your privacy.
O.k. Let's say that you've just been spammed.
(And if you haven't been spammed yet, then you probably just bought your computer last week.)
How do you KNOW that it is spam? You know because you never signed up to the email/announcement list. You never registered as a member on that particular bulletin board. You did not inquire about the 'service' or product being offered, You have never even heard of the person or company that sent you the special message on how to make money fast, grow more hair overnight, speed up your modem connection or meet the girl or boy of your dreams.
Whether someone is trying to sell you a product/service, get you to go check out their web site of "hot pix" or invite you on over for a pot luck supper, if you did not ask to be sent this information, then it is indeed 'spam.'
Are some emails unsolicited, yet not considered spam? Sure, if your dear Uncle Albert sends you an email and says he wants you to spend your weekend helping him cut the lawn and prune the apple trees, you probably won't consider his 'unsolicited email' as spam.
This could however depend on how you really feel about dear Uncle Albert and whether you consider cutting grass and trimming apple trees as way more fun than keeping that beach party date you have set up with Brad Pitt and Sharon Stone.
For more information on what spam is, check out: SPAM INFORMATION CENTER or SPAM HUNTERS RESOURCE
"But the email that I received clearly states that 'this cannot be considered spam' under federal law because... ."
So, the sender quoted you S. 1618. Title III, did they? Did it read something like this?
"Under Bill S.1618 Title III passed by the 105th U.S. Congress, this letter can not be considered spam as long as we include: 1) Contact information -- mail to:email@example.com, and 2) The way to be removed from future mailings : Click on your reply button and email us at- mail to:firstname.lastname@example.org and type "Remove" in the 'subject' line. "
There are many variations to the letter of this particular 'law', it seems. Some folks even get a bit more menacing about it:
"Under these provisions this letter can not be dealt with as spam and no further action can be taken by the reader against this company/person. Any report of this letter as spam to any independent agency or site is a violation of U.S. Bill S.1618 TITLE III of the U.S. Congress and will be dealt with promptly."
Wow, now that sounds serious! Anyone so well informed about the law must have done their research and must be telling the truth.
The truth? These guys don't know the meaning of the word.
There is NO federal law S. 1618. The email IS spam. And if you report the sender, perhaps you will help to save someone else a lot of aggravation.
About S. 1618 and Title III:
There IS a S. 1618-The Telephone Slamming Bill of 1998- alright and it does include this Title III information via an amendment by Senator Frank Murkowski :
Title III: Spamming - Requires a person who transmits an unsolicited commercial electronic mail message to include at the beginning of the body of the message: (1) the name, physical address, electronic mail address, and telephone number of the person who initiates transmission of the message or who created the content of it; and (2) a statement that further transmissions of such mail to the recipient by the person may be stopped at no cost to the recipient by sending a reply to the originating electronic mail address with the word "remove" in the subject line. Well, isn't that what they said in the email?
(Sec. 302) Empowers the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with regulatory authority over such unsolicited electronic mail, including authority to conduct investigations, commence civil actions against individuals, and impose fines, penalties, and injunctions. Requires the FTC to take appropriate action within two years after the transmission of such electronic mail.
(Sec. 303) Authorizes a State to bring a civil action on behalf of its residents against individuals or entities transmitting electronic mail in violation of this Act. Requires such State to notify the FTC of such action.
(Sec. 304) States that this Act shall not apply to an electronic mail transmission by an interactive computer service provider unless the provider initiates the transmission or the transmission is not made to its own customers.
Authorizes actions by such providers to enforce the sanctions under this Act. Requires such action within one year after receipt of the transmission.
(Sec. 305) Requires a person who receives from any other person an electronic mail message requesting the termination of further transmission of commercial electronic mail to cease such transmissions to the individual. States that a person who secures a good or service from, or otherwise responds electronically to, an offer of unsolicited commercial electronic mail shall be deemed to have authorized such transmission."
Yes, this is what they said in the email. What they DIDN'T say is that while S. 1618 passed the Senate on May 12, 1998, it never passed the House and the President never signed it. In short, S. 1618 was NEVER enacted into law.
(Short tutorial: The CONGRESS is made of both the SENATE and the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Both bodies of Congress must approve a piece of legislation before it is sent to the President for his signature. The President then may choose to sign the bill into law or send it back to Congress. With some exceptions, such as executive orders and veto over rides, unless both bodies of Congress and the President sign the legislation, it remains nothing but another piece of paper.)
The House did not approve S. 1618 because they had their own version of the Telephone Slamming Act in the frying pan. The sections on banning telephone slamming-changing your long distance service to another company without your knowledge or permission-were pretty much the same in H.R. 3888 as in S. 1618.
So why don't the spammers ever mention the Title III spam provision in H.R. 3888 then?
For one very good reason: It isn't in there.
No Title III language at all. After a huge public outcry reached the ears and email of House representatives, the pro-spamming section was stripped out. In fact, in the place where the Title III language used to reside, you will find this interesting tidbit:
HR 3888 IS-TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPETITION AND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT OF 1998
TITLE II - SPAMMING
Section 201. Sense of the Congress H.R. 3888 passed the House on 10/21/98. Now what did we just learn about enacting laws? Correct! The House bill was never approved by the Senate or signed by the President. H.R. 3888 is NOT a federal law either.
"Section 201 sets forth a sense of the Congress resolution regarding the practice of sending consumers unsolicited commercial electronic mail (or `e-mail'), often in bulk. This practice, commonly referred to as `spamming,' has been a serious concern to the Committee because spam congests the Internet and other electronic networks. In addition, some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) charge users based on time spent on using their network. Time spent by consumers deleting and preventing spam costs consumers money.
Thus, the Committee, for now, seeks to reduce the practice of spamming without imposing government mandates on the Internet and other electronic networks. Accordingly, the sense of Congress outlined in section 201 calls on the private sector to adopt, implement, and enforce measures that prevent and deter spam. The Committee expects that the private sector will view Congress' charge as a useful opportunity to reduce spam voluntarily."
So, you could say that the two provisions cancelled each other out, I guess. But the real truth of the matter is that there is NO federal law- one way or the other- that deals specifically with spam. (Some lawsuits have been brought forward using laws that govern faxes or mail fraud against spammers and some cases have been won on these grounds.)
So, where does that leave us exactly? The same place we started from. It is up to everyone who uses the internet and email to deal with it. Spammers still spam and those who hate spam use filtering software, report spammers (when they can find them) to the ISP's and adopt all sorts of strategies in an attempt to keep their email addresses from being harvested for someone else's benefit.
Some folks think that is enough. They figure that spam is just part of the price you pay in exchange for all of the other freedoms of expression available via the internet. Some people even sign up to receive more spam.
And of course, there are always those who manage to find the humor in any situation.
Some folks want real federal legislation to make spam illegal or curtail certain types of email bulk mailings or solicitations.
A few states such as Washington and California have enacted their own anti-spam laws.
Many ISP's (internet service providers) have 'no spamming' clauses in their terms of service (TOS) agreements.
|Virginia recently passed the most strongly worded and specific law (effective 7/1/99) on spam to date. (See also: Governor's text.)|
America On Line (AOL) and Compuserve are both based in Virginia. Under the new anti-spam legislation, spammers using AOL or any other Virginia based ISP to send spam, bulk emailings or other similar violations of the ISP terms of service may be liable for damages: ten dollars for each piece of unsolicited email up to $25,000 a day. Misdemeanor charges can also be brought against the perpetrators. Geared mostly to give the ISP's some clout in fighting spam, you can be sure that some regular internet and email users will be looking closely at this law, too. (For a simple explanation of this new law, see http://www.venable.com/tools/elecmarket/spam.htm)
What to do?
Hit your delete button, check with your ISP to see what they are doing to block spam, report spammers if you hate the stuff, be careful with your email information (or set up a separate account for all public postings and keep another one for private communications) and stay informed.
If you have an opinion about spam and what should be done about it-or not done about it- please contact your state representatives and senators.
You can be sure that those who profit from the spam making its way into your mailbox certainly will.
Walk in Love and Light.
The Witches' Voice
July 12th., 1999 c.e.
Additional thoughts from Deborah Snavely
AOLs inability to block its the spam of its own success is one reason I left it. I was the founding host of the PaganWiccan Discussion Group there. Every AOL user I know checks their mail online rather than downloading it because their email is 90% or higher of spam.Since I began using a real ISP my junk mail count is way down. If spam is offensive to me personally I complain to the postmaster at the domain. If the spam appears to be illegal chain letters virus hoaxes possible viruses and I have web access Ill look up the USPS site for reporting such and forward the offending communication. I'll just footnote for your purposes that
So if a mailto link has my email address they have to work harder to get it out of a page of HTML code than they do to lift it off the text on the same page. Similarly a preventive that keeps LOTS spam at bay is this pad your reply-to address for anyone who has control over it and your mailto links with an added element thats really obvious to anyone who actually READS the address before mailing it. Examplecrystal@thunderbunny.net sets up her reply and mail links as email@example.com and anything a spammer sends without applying human intelligence to it is bounced because theres no such user. Alternatives might be firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com or whatever you choose. I've seen nodamnspam used in this spot especially by the people still using a timed or server-space limited ISP account.There you go and lady bless
- I very much appreciate your fighting this.
- I dont think its your responsibility that spammers are skimming addresses.
- I dont put my email address into text only into the mail link. This prevents the easiest of the spam-scoops where idiots or robots reading pages pull out anything in the format of an email address.
- I suggest you post some of the simpler preventives publicly Spammers are usually using scripts to scoop e-mail addresses and not digging deeper.
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