[LINK] RFI: Help re SPAM Privacy Laws

Adam Todd at@ah.net
Mon, 17 Feb 2003 19:53:10 +1100

At 18:37 17/02/03 +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. And the "target business" 
>went into a "How dare you!" response as a *first* step, making threats 
>about ORB listings and so on.

What if instead of sending an e-mail they made a phone call?  Would that be 
SPAM?  Gosh I get phone calls from people soliciting jobs, products and 
services all the time.

Being a SINGLE message, personalised and unique, (I assume,) then the 
message could NEVER be considered SPAM at any level.

>Now before the people who don't take their tablets regularly start 
>claiming I'm some sort of apologist for spammers, let me reassure them 
>that I get annoyed with unwanted email messages too. Particularly if 
>they're promoting the unlikely enlargement of body parts I don't even 
>possess, business services that I can't possibly use because I'm not 
>American, or riches beyond my wildest dreams.

But you can be sure that your Penis Enlarger SPAM isn't just sent to you 
personally.  You can be sure it's sent to many people, won't have a valid 
return address, provides and OPT-OUT return address that probably doesn't 
work and you certainly probably are not interested in such thing or you'd 
have made mention of it earlier.

>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.

I totally agree.  Provided it's a personal approach and not a bulk mail out 
where the sender sits back and waits for a reply or sucker to opt-in.

And anyway, I've sold many a service to people trying to sell to me, so if 
they approach in a personal manner, I'll give them the time of day.

>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 -- 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.

I don't care for plumbers to be honest :) But the theme is in my opinion 

I've had the occasional email, unsolicited, arrive and found it 
interesting, useful and an advantage to me.  It wasn't SPAM.  It was just 
someone who found me in the IF Magazine or Encore and decided to have a shot.

>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.

Totally agree.  Except when it's local council :)

>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.

Gosh and might even become a customer!  NETWORKING people!

>But if it was an email headed "Software Package X Specials!!!" that looked 
>like it was just some mass mailout, with half a megabyte of imagery 
>attached, then I'd probably be annoyed.

Probably?  I'd be adding it to my block lists :)

>Similarly, approaching a previous customer six months later with a brief 
>message is fine. But dumping my product catalog at them every month 
>without any individual attention is just lazy and probably *is* spam.

Totally agree.  Actually a URL link to the catalogue with a username and 
password is a really cool way to keep customers old and new up to date and 
see who is poking around.

I really like the fact many companies I've purchased from (or maybe 
considered such) actually do put me on their mail list and keep me updated.

One company last year - BRE in Sydney - actually took a suggestion about a 
mail list from me in the first place, started it and then took a second 
suggestion of putting common used Tape and Recording product prices in the 
mail EVERY time they send them out.  (About once a month or sometimes twice.)

Now I get up-to-date info on the company, prices of consumable products to 
remind me I'm running out and an almost personalised communication.

Now if only my film stockist would do the same!

>I'm not sure exactly where I want to draw the fuzzy dividing line between 
>legitimate communication and spam. But I *do* know that the "mere" fact 
>that a communication was "unsolicited" (i.e. initiated by the seller or 
>provider of services) is, in and of itself, NOT a reason for banning it.

The line is fairly simple.

If you are sent email to an email address that is uniquely used for the 
purpose of a mail list, and it's not in relation to discussion from the 
list, it's SPAM.

If you get email from a person NOT on a mail list you participate in, about 
things you have no interest in (Penis Enlarger Pills for eg.) then it's SPAM.

If you get email from a person "Great Offer This week only" then it's 
highly likely to be SPAM.

If it's addressed personally, to an appropriate email address and details 
specific information to you or your company, then it's NOT SPAM.

I get a lot of unsolicited email from people all over the place (many often 
refer to LINK as a source of finding out about me) and I'm thrilled to 
build up those new contacts, just one of the wonderful things Internet can do!

>(Who's received 774 spams so far this month, but hasn't

Only?  I clear about 20-30 a day.  Checked my mail yesterday at 7 AM, got 
back today at 1 PM and had 280 messages to download. (Unusually) 143 were 
SPAM according to my Robot Processor.

I noticed on the ISP lists there are murmurs about increased SPAM this week.