6 thoughts on “Getting too much junk email?

  1. Or perhaps not. Unsubscribing from junk mail, e-mail, text messages, and phone calls confirms to the sender that their details about us were mostly correct. Whereas a nil response from us strongly indicates that we don’t give a rat’s arse about their insidious spamming and that we are likely to treat the spammer with utter contempt if they continue to invade our privacy.

    Your mileage may vary.

  2. Spam presently makes up over 90% of email traffic, and spam filtration frequently causes false-positives that filter out legitimate email. Interestingly, the US is the leading country for spam origination.

    The best proposal I’ve seen for eliminating spam is “a homeopathic dose of postage” by long-time computer scientist and renaissance genius Jaron Lanier.

    Broadband companies would charge a tiny amount of money for each outgoing email, for example 1/100 of a cent. This would have no real impact on legitimate email users, but it would destroy the business model of spam, which depends absolutely on free outgoing email.

    Legitimate bulk emailers, for example nonprofits and political campaigns, and companies engaged in legitimate advertising (such as with newsletters to their regular clients, and honest opt-outs), would end up paying for the privilege, but the cost would be small compared to any comparable marketing activity.

    To Lanier’s proposal I would also add a desktop widget that looks like an odometer and shows the number of outgoing emails coming from each computer. Thus if your computer got hijacked by a spambot net, you’d suddenly see the odometer reading had gone up very substantially. And/or, if you’re working on something else and see the counter going up, you would know right away that something had hijacked your computer.

    What’s also needed is absolutely fierce law enforcement action against spammers and against those who infect innocent computers to become part of botnets. I would propose legislation to specifically criminalize “damaging or destroying a utility,” which would fill the gap between vandalism and terrorism and include long prison sentences. This could be used against all forms of cybercrime that have impact on the net at-large, and also against physical sabotage such as shooting up utility transformers or cutting fiber optic lines.

  3. Pete, given that there is near zero cost to havintpg the information wrong, I’m not sure that matters. In any event, almost all the spam I get is from legit sources … Political mailing lists, etc. All I have to do is unsubscribe and it is gone. They already know my info is god because they get it from the VAN.

  4. While you may be getting most of your UBE from pseudo-legit sources[1], that has not been my experience. Everything I get from somewhere there would be hope of an unsubscribe working is something I either specifically signed up for or something related to actual interaction with a company that I don’t mind getting.

    And yes, confirming that there is someone at the other end is worth something: Spammer have long sold/traded lists of verified addresses[2]. To see if they are still doing this, we would have to do some virgin address testing.

    [1] As in, they would be legit if they weren’t thieves.

    [2] And at times, lists of ‘anti-commerce net-nazis’ to avoid. For a while, being a regular poster in news.admin.net-abuse.* was actually effective in keeping spam away.

  5. Greg, legit sources are usually very good at honouring unsubscribe requests therefore I agree that it’s worth taking the time to do it.

    Over 90% of my junk and spam is not from legit sources and I’ve discovered the hard way some of the unpleasant things that can result from attempting to unsubscribe.

    My e-mail address has been distributed around the globe by idiots who use the To field instead of the Bcc field when sending to multiple recipients. It reminds me of Hanlon’s razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

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