Spam Should be Ended

Everybody who has ever come across with Internet and email, has had experience in an unbelievable world which is different from the one we live in. The Internet world is the like a library of the world, and the impression of being involved into it can be compared only with jumping into the ocean which is filled with all kinds of books, magazines and other sources of information. Just like you get amazed when looking under the water near the coral reefs for the first time in a mask and snorkel and seeing the beauty of underwater world for the first time, you get equally amazed when experiencing the world for Internet. However, just as the water gets unclear sometimes and you are not able to see everything as clear as you could before, the Internet world loses much of its attractiveness due to spam. We talk a lot about pollution of water and all the negative consequences of it because it prevents us from using the water resources as efficiently as we would be able to, and from enjoying the beauty of the world underneath. However, pollution of Internet is perhaps just as large a problem because it prevents us from learning the necessary information. Everybody who has used Internet and email knows how annoying it at times gets when you get popup messages all the time telling you different things about the products different companies offer. Once this spam gets into your way, you are unable to keep working with as much productivity as you used to work.

At some point, you might be even unable to finish your work because spam drives you crazy. When you have to look through a large number of emails and find what is useful for you, you get in shock when seeing that every second email is spam, and you might even miss the important information because you might not notice it among the spam emails. Spam is pollution of Internet, it’s similar to a weed which prevents beautiful flowers from growing. While Internet is a specific world of its kind, its pollution is one of the major problems. Its fate in the future is under the threat of spam, therefore it’s very important nowadays to end spam before it shuts the doors into the Internet world. It requires both efforts of users and of government. Just as government is protecting the economy against externalities by putting specific taxes of companies which pollute atmosphere and air or by adopting specific regulations, it has to take spam problem just as serious as the problem of pollution of environment. However, just the efforts of government are not enough in such a case, therefore joint efforts of users have to used in such a case as well.

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What is spam in general? Why is there so much harm caused by it? According to the definition given by the spam expert Brad Templeton, spam stands for “performing a bulk mailing to a group of people to whom you are a stranger, and who did not request the mailing. The first key element is bulk. The definition of a stranger can be quite loose and still work. Somebody is not a stranger if you’ve had some sort of interaction with them personally.”[1] Spam is similar to getting advertisement when you are not welcoming that at all. Everybody knows how annoying it gets when somebody in the street is trying to make you buy some product through direct selling. However, you are able to avoid that because you might not stop to talk to the seller. With spam, there is no way for you to keep your privacy because you are forced to look through the information you are getting. Despite the fact that many people are suffering from spam, the measures which have been taken to prevent it have been mostly in vain during the recent years. In order to achieve maximum results, Brad Templeton suggests the following recommendations:

v  Encourage use of existing laws- relay abuse, fraud, denial of service attack, impersonation, etc.

v  Continue to discourage all legitimate companies from sending Spam.

v  Use special, more filtered addresses in public, but don’t use fake addresses that just make things harder for others.

v  Encourage ISP terms of service clauses, block open SMTP for trial accounts or users not signing anti-Spam clauses.

v  Secretary “white list” programs or other programs that divert probable Spam into lower priority queues.

v  Development of tagging systems to allow users to accurately filter their mail.[2]

However, the problem of spam-protection needs to be solved on the technological level for the most part. Without adopting efficient anti-spam systems, there would be no way to win the battle with spam. Due to the vitality of the problem and the need to find solution as soon as possible, many specialists have worked on this question. For example, Brad Templeton has presented an anti-spam system in which correspondence would contain a kind of a mark. In the case of the receiver’s decision that the email which he got was spam, he was able to obtain money as compensation from the company. In case of this system implementation, there would be no sense for spammers to keep sending spam emails to users of Internet. As Brad Templeton marks, with the adoption of this system, “challenges would be rarely sent, only on opening of correspondence and first subscription to a mailing list. Users with new mail clients would be unaware of the system. So long as new subscription challenges have low volume, CPU costs would be manageable. Of course, spammers would not be able to spam without buying supercomputer clusters. Should they do this the challenge difficulty can easily be boosted. Anonymous mail would be protected and reasonably easy, but would require new mailing software.” [3]

One of the following horrors of spam which make it an even more dangerous weed of Internet is that it can introduce kids to porno sites and simply give them wrong ideas about sex. There are many controversial opinions on this question. Some people think that spam doesn’t have a major influence on the introduction of porno sites to kids while others consider its influence very dangerous. As far as my personal experience shows, spam popups dealing with porno sites attack us the whole time as we are in Internet. There are many links on them in spam emails which are being received every day. Once you are looking through some useful site, very soon you find yourself being offered to look through adult videos or other things like that. As many other people, I’ve been a witness of situations in which kids who had absolutely no desire to look into any porno stuff were forced to do that because they were receiving spam emails with contents which could be very negative for their knowledge of the world.

However, some people think that the influence of porno spam on kids in minimal, and they can get a much better idea of sex and get abused in real life. For example, as Lauren J. Magid states, “…most of what I and other people have written deals with protecting children from sexual predators and with helping parents steer children’s Web surfing so that they don’t wind up looking at pictures of naked or mangled bodies… Despite the horror stories promulgated by Jenny Jones and other TV talk shows, the actual number of children victimized by sexual predators is quite low. I’m far more worried about the Net’s potential commercial impact on children.”[4] However, in my opinion, it’s impossible to consider porno spam’s negative influence on kids so little. Of course, commercial spam has an impact on them because it forces kids to ask parents to buy more things for them which they learned out through advertising. But the influence of spam emails which provide porno links to kids is much more dangerous. Even those kids who would otherwise never go to such sites, get temped to see what those sites offer, and their moral values much change very much in the result of that.  One of the typical stories of parents seeing their kids receiving such emails is the following: “Some of the messages that find their way into my son’s mailbox say “adults only” in the subject line, but that’s hardly going to stop a curious child from reading. My son recently got an email message with the subject, “I Need Your Vote!” I encourage my kids to take an interest in politics, so I was delighted that he opened it. But the message from Horny Harry read, “I’ve put together a great list of free Adults Only* sites at, but now I NEED YOUR HELP to get more of the best FREE Sports, News and Finance sites.” [5] Unfortunately, at present there is no way for parents to protect the kid from the negative influence of Internet spam. Therefore, they limit the kids’ usage of Internet in order to minimize the spam influence. This step is not very wise because kids are able to learn a lot from Internet, and in order to promote this learning, it’s necessary to introduce new techniques of fighting with spam. One of the important innovations among anti-spam programs which could protect kids from the porno spam as well as other kinds of spam is I Hate Spam program which was made by Sunbelt Software. The program is very helpful and according to its creators, “The I Hate Spam software program used to run exclusively on Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, however the latest version now also works with Hotmail and the Eudora email client software.”[6]

Another negative influence of spam which needs to be eliminated in the nearest future is political spam. In order to get more people to vote for the, politicians have started using spam emails with their programs written in them. Such emails work on some people but they become a terrible burden for those people who have absolutely no desire to deal with politics or have their political views already, and are not planning to change them in any way. Political spam can be brought to an end only through adopting laws and regulations against it. Without the mentioned sanctions, politicians will keep using this method because it has proved to be quite efficient for them. “Advocates claim that campaigning via the internet reduces candidates’ dependence on fundraising, but critics detest political spam as the latest nuisance. As political campaigns grow more expensive and competitive, the Internet provides a new medium for advertising. By sending out unsolicited bulk e-mails, candidates can engage (or annoy) many voters with the click of a button.”[7]

There have already been some attempts to adopt anti-spam laws but they weren’t very successful, and we are still facing the problem of spam. In order to adopt efficient legislation in spam regulation, it’s necessary for the federal government to organize a committee which would work on the issues of spam regulation. If spam pollution is not the most important global problem nowadays, it might become one very soon. The larger role is being played by Internet in the lives of people, the larger the threat of spam becomes. It’s impossible to let spam control the web, and prevent users of getting all the necessary information. Just as weeds prevent good plants from growing, spam is going to prevent network technologies from further development. The steps which were taken by the government in this regard are insufficient. “Republican Sen. Frank Murkowski of Alaska introduced Senate Resolution 771, which would require junk emailers to put “advertisement” in the subject header so recipients could screen out such mail. Another interesting bill from Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli of New Jersey would “Prohibit senders from directing messages to anyone who has asked not to receive any more mail from that source, either by replying to a message or by providing prior notice that such messages are unwanted.” The Netizen Protection Act of 1997 (HR 1748) by Rep Christopher H. Smith, “will make unsolicited advertisements unlawful by amending the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 which banned unsolicited junk faxes.”[8] However, in order to eliminate the problem completely, it’s necessary to carry out a complex approach to the problem. Separate suggestions on this point will not be able to bring spam to an end.

Spam is also starting to attack the U.S. in the cellular networks. If in the beginning of cell phones introduction in the country the capacity of the devices didn’t allow to support any kind of spam, the situation is changing rapidly nowadays. Wireless phone spam is already polluting cell phone networks in Europe and Japan, and this situation is soon going to be no better in the U.S. As it is mentioned in the press, “U.S. carriers are slowly developing true third generation wireless data networks, which allow for a rate of data transfer comparable to high-speed internet, thus moving U.S. wireless technology back into drafting position behind Europe and Japan.”[9]

The problem of spam is very sharp nowadays. As it was mentioned above, the application of anti-spam programs can bring spam to an end. For example, a program suggested by Brad Templeton is very efficient and could minimize the economic effect of spam distribution in the web. In order to destroy spam, it’s necessary to destroy the economic motive of it. As long as the companies will have to pay compensations for spam to those users who are not willing to receive those emails, there will be no sense to firms to send spam emails to anybody regarding their products. It’s very important to destroy the economic basis of spam in order to achieve maximum results. It’s also necessary to devote efforts to the research of anti-spam programs similar to the one which was created by Sunbelt Software. They can be very helpful in fighting with spam. However, the most important issue lays in the adoption of efficient legislation regulating the spam distribution in Internet. Without efficient government support, there is no way to fight with spam.