Archive: Should spammers be canned?


Nov 10, 2004- By GREG GAZIN — CNEWS Tech News

The Virginia courts have spoken. Send spam- go to jail. In a judgment handed down last Wednesday, Jeremy Jaynes of Raleigh, North Carolina, was sentenced to nine years for allegedly sending hundreds of thousands of unsolicited commercial e-mail by fraudulent means, using false identities and fake company names.

While UCEM is the official acronym for Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail, no matter how it’s sliced – I call it spam.

In an in-depth CBC report last November, they described spam messages as those that promise get-rich-quick schemes, easy PhD diplomas, cheap Viagra and lots of porn, and that they are flooding our in-boxes daily.

So where did it come from? Some say spam comes from a Monty Python sketch about Vikings who liked SPAM™ luncheon meat; another version said it was the continuous repetition of the word in the sketch. Still, others claim the term originated at the research labs at USC because it has many of the same characteristics as the pork luncheon meat. Also saying that on the other hand, that some people like it – those who find the spam useful. I’m sure there are others.

But in reality, spam, the digital kind is infringing on our lives. Now, it makes sense that the only way to stop the spam is to stop the spammers – those who initiate it. Many sources concur that spammers are thieves. spammers steal your personal and computer time. Think of the opportunity cost of having to spend 10-15 minutes each morning filtering junk. One individual related it to 2 weeks vacation time.

Spammers also steal your money. Estimates show that each day 15-billion spam messages cross over the wires. CBC News reported on the PEW Report that AOL handles 2.4 billion unsolicited advertising pieces per day, equivalent to about 67 per inbox. It seems that up to 80% of their total incoming e-mail is trash. Filtering e-mail wastes valuable resources, which you and I ultimately pay for.

Filters themselves aren’t totally infallible. Sadly, some of the e-mails blocked; especially those with attachments or poorly described subject lines are legitimate, making the services you’re actually paying for unreliable.

Depending on whom you talk to, it’s estimated that spam costs US corporations between US$8.5 and US$10 billion each year in lost productivity.

Not all ads are spam

Advertising does have its place in today’s society and one must not forget that not all advertising sent over the net can be classified as spam. Advertising and sponsorship is a necessity today. It educates and communicates. It pays for Newspapers, Magazines, Radio and TV shows.

A report out of the UK prepared by Clearswift, whose product portfolio MIMEsweeper™, a content security solution, concluded that spammers create mixed messages. They are also confusing the populous, blurring boundaries between legitimate e-mail and junk offerings – which often included illegal and counterfeit goods.

Spam affects Image

The report also went on to say how spammers could affect a company image. The example they used what that of the good folks at Pfizer, the makers of Viagra™. They’re claiming that spammers are actually affecting their brand name. In a recent poll, twenty-five per cent of men questioned believed Pfizer itself was responsible for sending Viagra spam. I’m sure the manufacturers are not waking up every morning jumping for joy.

Spammers also breach our trust. An innocent offer to unsubscribe us from their lists actually validates our coordinates and invites them to send even more.

Spammers do it because they see dollar signs. The Wall Street Journal estimated that a response rate of only 0.001 per cent is enough to make spamming work. Now, the only way to stop the spreading of viruses from these diseased individuals is to keep their fingers from the keyboard.

People and major corporations have vowed to take action. While Canada’s laws are lax, the US government wants to hit the spammers where it hurts.

Spammers are not exercising their right of Freedom of Speech. Spammers are Criminals! Jaynes’ bail has been set at US$1 million with the condition that he wears a leg monitor and is not allowed to use a computer.

Spammers should be put behind bars. I say. Throw ‘em in the slammer or should I say – in the can.

(SPAM is a registered trademark of Hormel Foods Corporation)

Gadget Guy Greg Gazin, President, Parallel 2000 Corp, has been involved in the computer industry for over two decades. His columns have appeared in various magazines and newspapers. He can be reached at (780)424-1881 or

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