What is bulk email, better known as spam, unsolicited email or other unprintable descriptions? Spam? Yes, thats right. It was named after the famous Monty Python parody. Proponents of bulk email call it the electronic direct mail road to riches. They are usually the ones collecting the money, of course. Recipients of bulk email call it the biggest single annoyance on the Internet. But that doesnt tell you what it is, does it? Well, its simply sending unwanted, unsolicited email directly to a list of thousands of email addresses and its a very good way to damage your companys reputation on the Net before it even has a chance to get a good start.
First, lets take a look at a single recipient of one bulk email campaign. At a glance, it doesnt sound like much of an annoyance, does it? After all, you have a trash can in your mailer, so you can just move it over and dump it in. You dont have to read it do you? Now multiply the number of people sending bulk email by the thousands and it becomes more than merely an annoyance. Once you become more active on the Net, put up a web page, post to a few newsgroups, request a few downloads that require your email address, etc., the spam begins to grow . . . and grow . . . and grow.
What was once a few a day begins to be ten, twenty and more. Think about the time it takes you to wade through it all. Its like telemarketing. One call at dinnertime is an annoyance. Ten calls a day and you begin to think about an unlisted phone number. Unsolicited email fills up a mailer. Those who have a limited amount of email space may miss important emails, rejected because their mailer is full. People become enraged. Your account may be terminated by your service provider because of the complaints. Put in an 800 phone number and you will receive a ton of complaints, or long black faxes that can burn out the termal unit, or you could be targeted with mail bombs which are huge files attached to emails designed to lock up your mailer. You will find your company listed on Net Advertisers Blacklists, publicly embarrassed and all of your products will be boycotted. Then there are those who get really nasty. Think it cant happen to you? Last February, it happened to Symantec. And they are a well-known software company who makes Norton AntiVirus and other programs. They bought and used a third party list and the outrage was immediate, forcing an apology which equates to closing the barn door after the prize stallion was already gone.
Recipients arent the only ones damaged by spam. Many of the spammers are illegally using other web hosts mail servers to send out their spam in order to hide their own identities and escape retribution. The unsuspecting web host then becomes deluged with thousands of returned emails from inactive accounts and an outcry of complaints. It also takes four or more days for the webmaster to clean up the problem, often resulting in an inability for their other customers to receive email in the interim.
It isnt illegal to send unsolicited email over the Net . . . yet. But even Congress has recognized that spam is a problem on the Internet and several bills are still floating around in the Legislature that are concerned with regulating bulk email. A law against junk faxes already exists, so one idea is to amend it to include junk emails . There is already a law in Washington that makes it illegal in that state to send an unsolicited commercial email with false information identifying the point of origin of the message or using a false header that hides the true identity of the sender. And other states may not be far behind.
So, what about that rocket? What do you think? Would it be worth it to give your company this kind of sendoff?
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