Cybernaut 

Slammin’ Spammin’

The Telecommunications Research and Action Center is fighting Internet spam and they want your help to do it. Just give them your e-mail address, and they will send you more information and updates on the issues as they progress…

It doesn’t get any more ironic than that. A consumer group created to fight spam almost wound up sending unwanted spam e-mails to the very people who were fed up enough with spam to visit www.trac.org in the first place.

The group passed off the incident as a technical blunder by an inexperienced programmer, and changed the wording on their Web site before any letters could be sent out.

Not that any of us would have noticed a few more pieces of e-mail anyway.

Every single day of the week I get between 30 and 50 spam e-mails in my Hotmail Account. If I go away for a weekend, I usually have more than 100 messages to delete when I get back.

The last personal e-mail I received was on Aug. 16. Since then I estimate that I have received and deleted more than 800 unsolicited spam messages.

Since the last time I wrote about spam in the column, just six months ago, the amount of daily spam I’m personally receiving has increased by 50 per cent.

According to a recent CNN article, Hotmail subscribers receive about a billion pieces of spam. That’s about a 80 per cent of all messages sent and received, and doesn’t include billions of other pieces of junk mail that are successfully blocked by Hotmail’s servers.

On the whole it’s difficult to gauge just how big the spam phenomenon has grown. Some Web service providers have seen spam traffic double, while others have seen a fivefold increase in the past year alone.

Spammers would have us believe that they’re the victims in all of this. Unable to compete with the big corporations using conventional advertising, they’ve been reduced to trying to get in through the back door. They believe the Internet service providers who use technology to block spam have forced them to use such underhanded pitches as pretending to know you, using personalized subject lines, and dodging the software that was created to block them out.

Some spammers might actually think they’re doing the world a favour by selling printer toner cartridges 80 per cent cheaper than retailers, or offering to consolidate debts. After all, who wouldn’t want to purchase child-proofing motion detectors for their homes, buy cheap nutritional supplements, or take pills to add one to three inches to their genitalia?

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