miércoles, 23 de octubre de 2013

It’s time to stop illegal spamming

Spam.  A small word.  But a big problem.  We all suffer from having to deal with spam.  Each single one of these intrusions is small, seemingly insignificant, hardly worth worrying about.  But when a person’s private mailbox is crammed daily – hourly – with scores or hundreds of spams, the problem becomes serious.  We should not have to spend our precious time sorting through emails like this. 
Some of us even have to change our eddresses multiple times to avoid a mailbox filled with crazy pitches for all kinds of things we don’t need or want, things that are insulting or gross or disgusting.  

And to say that spam is like junk mail is to be grossly unfair to junk mail.  In fact, spam isn’t at all like junk mail, which self-controls through the expense of real money in mailing costs.  Spammers do have setup costs and the person running the computer is on an hourly rate, but even with having to do a lot of work in hiding IPOs and finding new ways into the market, each spam message sent can only cost about a hundredth of a cent or less.

To send a millions spams at that rate might cost $100 – but the work is mostly pushing buttons and the cost is in the setup, which only happens once.  For a guy to push those same buttons to send 10 million emails for that same $100 means that each spam message would cost one-thousandth of a cent.  And while direct mail’s return was good at 1-2%, that same return on ten million spams would be 100,000-200,000 people. 

Sure, they don’t get that kind of return, but even at a hundredth of one percent, they're still hearing back from 1,000 people.  Not bad for a hundred bucks investment.

And those spammers are clever – they can disguise their point of origin and often hack into a legitimate system to avoid detection and prosecution.  And they often operate in countries where there's no law against sending unwanted emails out to a billion people.

Here's the thing:  no one is sending spam for free.  Someone's paying for the spammers to send.  So if we can’t get to the spammers themselves, the government could certainly hold responsible the companies they are pitching.
And it’s time to stop illegal spamming.  NOW.  We all get spam that seemingly comes from reputable companies.  But somewhere in their promotional chain, the crossover happens from coupons and Groupons into spam.  And the way to truly combat that flavor of spam is to hold the reputable companies responsible.

So why doesn’t the government go after spammers through the companies they’re pitching?

In just one recent (and large) collection of spam were these, among dozens of others:

eHarmony Partner
FREE this Weekend ONLY - No Credit Card Needed

Today.. Brand New Apple Ipad 32GB for $17.57

Lifestyle Lift
Do you look older than you feel?

Improvement Center
Change your life with a Walk-In Bathtub ]||''_[

AIG Direct Life Insurance
$250k Term Life Coverage for less than $15 per mo

View Photos of Local Singles on Match.com for Free...

SAVE up to 85% on Ink and Toner today – Free Shipping

Marine Essentials
||Blood Pressure Myth Exposed…?

Insider Consumer Trends
Want to look younger? Help has arrived.

BlackPeopleMeet.com Dating
View Profiles of Black Singles - Free to Look

In these examples, eHarmony is paying someone to send emails – so levy a fine on eHarmony for the spam.  HotCloseouts is paying someone – so hit HotCloseouts with a monetary penalty.  Lifestyle Lift is paying someone – levy a big fine on Lifestyle Lift.  Walk-In Bathtub is paying someone – another financial penalty for Walk-In Bathtub.

And the same for the rest of those villains:  fines for AIG and Match.com and Simplyink and Insider Consumer Trends and BlackPeopleMeet.com.  If we make the benefactors of the spam pay a hefty price, they will stop using the spammers to get business. 

And all penalties would be based on the number of reported spams, extrapolated out for how many total spams that each reported spam represents of the original gargantuan list.

Granted, there are many more spams that aren’t linked back to reputable companies, but holding these corporations responsible would go a long way toward defeating spam.  So please, write letters - emails! - to your congresspersons.  Flood them with pleas and demands to stop spam.  Get them thinking about this solution to a growing problem.

David Hakim is an internationally-published journalist and award-winning author who has run several newspapers – and recently received a commendation for his short story That Man in the London Aesthetica Competition.  He can be reached at dhakim at earthlink.net