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12/09/2003 Archived Entry: "YOU-CAN-SPAM"
"United States set to Legalize Spamming on 1 January 2004"
Think that headline is alarmist? Guess again. The CAN-SPAM Act -- widely being called the YOU-CAN-SPAM act -- has been crafted by direct marketers and their pals in government to ensure that they can send you all the spam they want.
As The Inquirer points out,
If you're a spammer, all you have to do is not advertise anything illegal in your spam, not use deceptive headers (that'll be quite a wrench for some long-time spammers) and include a "working" opt-out link and you'll be able to spew as much crap into America's inbox as you want.
Even better the spammers get to define what a "working" opt-out link means. Want to require your recipients to send you their unsubscribe messages on a gold-plated rhino, go for it... The law says that's fine just as long as if you do get one you honour it (doesn't seem to be anything stopping you from adding that email address to a different spam lists though).
It seems we're not the only ones seeing a drastic increase in spam email. And it's going to get worse on January 1st. Many anti-spam organizations, evidently immune to experience, are advocating more legislation. Not me -- I don't like legislation, and it won't work anyway.
Now is the time to take action. Here's what we're doing:
1. We're setting up new email addresses for our personal mail.
2. We're removing "mailto" links from all our web pages. Instead, those links will take readers to a page giving instructions about how to email us. These instructions will be human-readable but not robot-readable.
3. Our existing "public" email addresses will get autoresponders with similar instructions.
4. We're resubscribing all our email lists to use the new addresses.
Basically we're going to manage our email, using extra email addresses and email filters to help sort the "good stuff." Because we use a web hosting service, we have the luxury of controlling our own email addresses and creating new ones as needed. But anyone can change to a new email address; just ask your ISP. It would be the perfect thing to give yourself for Christmas.