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Spam If You Want Jail Time

Posted by J Schipper on: 2006-04-05 19:41:41

Self SEO > Anti Spam Articles

Spam is more than just an annoying, time-wasting nuisance that decreases business productivity, fills up server space and clogs bandwidth. It also includes attempted fraud on a grand scale via "phishing" emails, false requests purportedly from companies such as Ebay or Paypal, asking for credit card information.

Almost all email users worldwide receive spam, and despite all attempts to defeat it, this marketing method seems to be increasing. According to a study by IDC, in 2004 38% of the 31 billion emails sent every day in North America were spam, up from 24% in 2002. In August 2004, MessageLabs found that 84.2% of all emails scanned were spam. In a weeklong study conducted by the University of Texas, 56.2% of messages filtered through Brightmail were flagged as spam.

Because of the continual "arms race" between spammers and spam-blocker designers, no anti-spam software will catch every piece of junk email. Spammers continually discover new methods to evade anti-spam software, which often removes mail based on suggestive keywords. Emails are sent under official-sounding titles such as "server account information" which many internet users will open, only to be faced with lurid, deliberately misspelled advertisements offering miraculous remedies to enlarge one's private parts. To avoid giving away their physical location, spammers often hijack legitimate servers and use them to emit a barrage of junk email. Spammers also falsify sender and reply addresses as well as randomize the content of their email to increase uniqueness; approximately 85% of spam currently being received is unique.

Initially, internet users put up with the growing barrage of junk email, but finally legislation has been introduced to stop this waste of computer users' time.

In January 2004 Federal Can-Spam Act was passed for the purpose of “controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing” and the Wireless Telephone Spam Protection Act. The Can-Spam Act specifies that unsolicited commercial emails must be labeled and include opt-out instructions as well as the sender's physical address. It bans the use of deceptive subject lines and false headers. The Wireless Telephone Spam protection Act bans the use of wireless messaging systems to send unsolicited advertisements.

The nation's first anti-spam prosecution occurred in April 2004, when Daniel J. Lin made a plea bargain deal to serve a minimum of two years in prison. Lin was charged along with three others for illegally using well-known company and government computers, including those of Amoco, Ford Motors., Unisys, the U.S. Army Information Center and the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, to send junk e-mail that appeared to be legitimate. In March 2005, the FTC settled civil charges against Lin and the three accomplices, along with their company, Phoenix Avatar LLC. The defendants agreed to pay a $20,000 civil penalty.

Another notable prosecution under the Can-Spam Act occurred in November 2004 when a brother and sister who sent junk e-mail to millions of America Online customers were convicted. Jurors found Jeremy Jaynes, 30, and Jessica DeGroot, 28, guilty of three counts each of sending e-mails with fraudulent and untraceable routing information. This team of rogue internet marketers peddled useless products such as a "FedEx refund processor", a work-at-home scheme hat supposedly allowed people to earn $75 an hour. In one month alone, they received 10,000 credit card orders for the processor, each for $39.95. They amassed a net wealth of $24 million peddling worthless products like the refund processor and other products like a "penny stock picker" and an Internet history eraser. The jury recommended a nine-year jail sentence for Jaynes and a $7,500 fine for DeGroot. This case is still under appeal.

By the beginning of 2006, than 30 cases had been brought under the CAN-SPAM act by state and federal law enforcement, along with 20 enforcement actions by the FTC.

In addition to the Can-Spam Act, the Computer Owners’ Bill of Rights is being proposed by the FTC, which would create a “do-not-email” registry of addresses, similar to the "do not call" list affecting telemarketers, of internet users not wishing to receive unsolicitated commercial email messages. Another proposal is to force advertisers add “ADV” in the title of any commercial email. Probably a better idea would be to fine the companies that employ spammers, as they are easily located by the content of the email. a practice already being used in Australia. ISPs could also start terminating accounts of websites that are advertised via spam.

About The Author:
J Schipper loves Spam Blockers

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