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Wanted: A way out of spam

A reader writes that people who like spam should definitely be able to get it, but people who don't like spam need to have a way to make it manageable.


Wanted: A way out of spam

In response to the May 16 Perspectives column by Barry Dennis, "Why I love spam":

It is nice that Dennis enjoys his spam, and I do recognize the convenience of receiving marketing materials; there are even some environmental benefits to not cutting down trees. While I don't think spam should be banned, there is a definite need for some type of regulation to control the cockroaches of this industry.

1. Porn spam mail: To marketers, an e-mail address is an e-mail address. Porn ends up in kids' e-mail accounts, corporate e-mail accounts, and the accounts of people who have no interest in things like "Barnyard Animal Babes".

2. Fraud and false information: The spam marketers use spoofing, fraud, false-remove e-mail addresses, fake links, and deceptive practices to keep you on their lists and add you to more. If I could successfully ask to be removed from lists I am not interested in, like "Barnyard Animal Babes," Viagra alternatives (don't need that yet), and mortgage refinancing (don't own a home), it would be a much more pleasant experience.

I don't mind getting information I want. I don't mind getting information I ask for. I don't even mind getting a little bit of information I didn't ask for. But if I want to be left alone, I want to be able to tell them to leave me alone. I see spam mail as similar to telemarketers that interrupt your evening dinner. Many of the e-mails load something, try to load something, or otherwise track (using Web bugs) your receipt and other information related to you from these messages.

The problem isn't spam--the problem is the practices these companies use to spam us. It's the unscrupulous, deceptive and despicable practices they use (unsubcribe from "ItsIncredible Offers" and they automatically sign you up for their partner company, "ItsAmazing Offers").

Don't ban spam--regulate it.

1. Require spam mail to have valid return addresses.

2. Require vendors to have valid, and working, methods to remove you via electronic means.

3. Require specific authorization for opting in that validates you are over 18 for porn spam.

4. Require the subject of the message to contain the "ADV:" prefix so that if I don't want to look at it, I can chunk it into my trash can, just like I do with regular mail--I never have to open the message.

Spam advertising is too aggressive and out of control. People like Dennis who like spam should definitely be able to get it, but people like me who don't like spam need to have a way to make it manageable.

Byron Kuhn
Memphis, Tenn.



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