[LINK] RFI: Help re SPAM Privacy Laws

Craig Sanders cas@taz.net.au
Tue, 18 Feb 2003 13:39:48 +1100

On Mon, Feb 17, 2003 at 06:37:13PM +1100, Stilgherrian wrote:
> At 17:49 +1100 17/2/03, Craig Sanders wrote:
> >On Mon, Feb 17, 2003 at 03:28:19PM +1100, Roger Clarke wrote:
> >> Maybe someone else can offer a better, or enhanced, answer to this
> >> question.
> >
> >my answer would be "you spammed, shut up and go away".
> I actually disagree that there's been spam here, because there 
> doesn't appear to have been a "mass mailing".
> If I read the original question correctly, someone who's running a 
> business made contact with another business which might be able to 
> use his services -- based on knowing that the "target" business used 
> some specific product by reading about it in an advertisement. 

i.e. they spammed.

it's still spam even if it's "targetted".

the point is that it was unsolicited commercial email.  the sender
misused an address that was made public for, IIRC, collecting job

> And the "target business" went into a "How dare you!" response as a
> *first* step, making threats about ORB listings and so on.

i think a FOAD response is entirely appropriate.  it's possible, even
likely, that the spammer is just a bit clueless and needs to learn that
spam is not acceptable.  they're not going to learn that unless they are
told in no uncertain terms.

an outraged response may just prevent a clueless newbie from becoming a

> But I still think it should be acceptable for a business to initiate 
> contact with another business or, yes, even an individual in order to 
> introduce their services. 

perhaps so, but they should not do it by misusing addresses that were
provided for a different purpose.

> I don't think it's reasonable to limit a business' marketing
> activities to passively waiting for the customers to roll in. We're
> not limited in that way offline 

the difference is that in the off-line world, advertisers pay for
delivery of their message.  in email, it is the recipient (aka the spam
victim) who pays.

> -- a new plumber in the area can drop a note in my letter box telling
> me he can fix my pipes 24 hours a day -- and so I believe we should be
> able to do the equivalent online.

and if he ignores the "No junk mail" notice on the letter box, there are
legal consequences for his misuse of your letterbox.

what you are suggesting does not scale.  if even 1 in 1,000,000
businesses had your attitude then email would be completely worthless as
a communications medium, as every mailbox would be flooded with
thousands of spams every day.

> Plus I don't think there's much wrong with, say, getting back in touch
> with a previous customer to see if there's anything more we can help
> them with.

i do.  if i want to find out something, i'll go looking for it.

> Now that said, if someone replies by saying "Sorry, I'm not
> interested," then they should stop sending email to that person. It's
> just plain rude to continue in the face of a specific request to stop.

it's just plain rude to send unsolicited commercial email.

opt-out is not a solution, it doesn't scale.  you'd be spending all your
time sending opt-out messages to every rude, inconsiderate jerk who just
wanted to find out if you might be interested in their product or

> It'd be interesting to know just how our original correspondent 
> worded his/her communication.
> If it was along the lines of "Hi, I saw your advert and noticed that 
> you use Software Package X for Windows. I happen to supply that, so 
> if you ever need more copies please get in touch. Orv if you like, I 
> can email you our catalog?" then I'd consider that a reasonable 
> approach. Here's a business which has noticed what I do and has 
> communicated with me individually.

i get messages like that every day.  they provide me with useful fodder
for my anti-spam rules.  the first spam may get through....after that,
NO mail from their domain will ever get through to any of my mail

the content is irrelevant.  the fact that it is unsolicited is what
makes it spam.


craig sanders <cas@taz.net.au>

Fabricati Diem, PVNC.
 -- motto of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch