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Some countries and U.S. states now have laws that outlaw spam and allow the recipient to sue for damages. If you, your ISP, the spammer or the spammer's ISP falls into the right jurisdictions, you may have a right to claim recompense -- i.e., money -- from spammers. This can be difficult; for one thing you need to find the spammer's postal address, and this can be difficult. But there are now several organizations and groups to help people who are interested in suing spammers. While this is a step in the right direction, you still should have spam email filters and spam blocker software.
The Texas state legislature passed a law in June 2003 requiring that unsolicited commercial e-mail messages include a label ("ADV:" or "ADV: ADULT ADVERTISEMENT") at the beginning of the subject line, and a functioning return e-mail address for opt-out requests, which must be honored. These unsolicited commercial email messages are also known as "spam." The law passes does not prevent spam from coming to your home computer but it does prohibit unsolicited commercial messages with falsified routing information. False, deceptive, or misleading subject lines are also prohibited in all spam e-mail messages, as is the unauthorized use of a third party's domain name. But since these messages can be sent from places without anti-spamming laws, you will still need spam email filters and spam blocker software for your email accounts.
When you are choosing a spam blocker for your home or small business, there are several features you should look for to ensure that you are getting your money's worth.
1. Easy and/or automoated setup.
The software should automatically detect your email addresses, your network information and your email address book so that you don't have to worry about remembering proxy settings or complicated setup parameters.
2. Automatic Operation
It should automatically designate and seperate spam emails according to suspicious email headers and unknown addresses and send notifcation to the end user. It should also be checking to see if the landing sites in the email are pornographic.
3. Easy Access to see your filtered email.
4. A filter list and white list - or designated domains from which you automatically accept or reject emails.
5. Specified email addresses from which you accept or reject emails.
6. In Depth Training
A new anti-spam law was passed by the United States and went into effect on January 1, 2004. Sadly, this only prevents US companies from sending out spam without certain indicators. Under this new law, CAN-SPAM, marketers must remove customers from their lists when requested, they must provide automated opt-out methods as well as complete contact information (address and phone) with alternate means of removal. CAN-SPAM also bans common spamming practices such as false headers and email harvesting (the use of software that spiders websites to collect email addresses). Subject lines must be truthful and contain a notice that the message is an ad. By forcing commercial companies into these more honest practices, the efficiency of your spam filter will increase. You will still going to get unsoliceted spam from companies not govened by our laws, but the CAN-SPAM law is a good start.
While passing laws to limit spammers and create punishments for convicted spammers has helped, the real solutions to reducing spam depends on cooperation between ISPs and consumers who are proactive about protecting their personal and business systems. Talk to your ISP about the options they have available to their customers for fighting spam, and make sure your system is equipped with good email spam filters and spam blockers.
New spam blocker technology being adopted by large internet companies is having some positive effects. Yahoo! appears to have tackled the problem effectively with its in-house designed "SpamGuard." Their statistics show a 40 percent rise in junk mail sent between March and September, but a 66 percent decline in spam actually getting through to users. Especially effective is the option that allows uses to identify an email as spam, thereby funneling any follow up messages into the "Spam Folder" in the email inbox.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|