Thanks to Monty Python, the U.K. based comedy troupe from the seventies, “spam” became the symbol for mediocrity. Later spam became the symbol for unwanted e-mail from unknown senders.
Spam is actually the trademark name for the Hormel Corporation canned meat product. SPAM was used by the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. Nonetheless, spam is now the “official” word for unsolicited bulk e-mail. “Spammers” typically send a piece of e-mail to a distribution list in the millions, expecting that only a tiny number of readers will respond to their offer.
The spam problem is so enormous that 80% or more all e-mail delivered is spam or spam-like. Heck, we need a law to stop this stuff. And we have one. The CAN- SPAM Act of 2003 states the following more or less:
• It bans false or misleading header information.
• Your e-mail’s “From,” “To,” and routing information must be accurate and identify the person who initiated the e-mail.
• It prohibits deceptive subject lines.
• It requires that your e-mail give recipients an opt-out method. Opt-out requests must be processed within 10 days.
• You must provide a return e-mail address or another internet-based response mechanism that allows a recipient to ask you not to send future e-mail messages to that e-mail address, and you must honor the requests.
• It requires that commercial e-mail be identified as an advertisement.
• It also must include your valid physical postal address. (Note: P.O. Boxes are not adequate).
• You may not sell, exchange or otherwise transfer the e-mail address of any recipient who has made an opt-out request.
What this means to you and me is that our commercial e-mail practices have to change. In fact, recent surveys suggest that up to 50% of the spam received is from legitimate e-mail senders like you and me. In other words, we are breaking the law. The fines can be up to $12,000 per incident. Yikes!
For more information, consult your attorney.
John Bradley Jackson
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