Cris Mooney
A Personal
Web Page: 

"Of course, that's just my opinion, and I may be full of shit"
- Dennis Miller -

Since this opinion was considered in great detail, it will be difficult to change my mind. However, it's not impossible. I am always open to reason. I welcome well thoughtful, logical, response.

Recorded Nov 8, 1998 

Spam Spam

Most everyone dislikes Spam (a slang term for Unsolicited Electronic Mail, the common cases are know as UCE and Spam). However, some individuals have a warped attitude about it. Certainly, I am against chain letters and the con, and any mail sent anonymously or in attempts to defraud recipients (please read this page I wrote on fraudulent email). On the other hand, legitimate mass mail serves a purpose and its opponents are extremists. 

Society has been through this sort of thing on many occasions, and we have all agreed that some inconvenience is acceptable for legitimate communication and commerce. Legitimate Spam is no different than the flyers we subsidize to be sent to our houses via "bulk permits", and pay to have disposed in our land fills. The list of precedents goes on, and exemplifies why legitimate Unsolicited Electronic Mail is acceptable and here to stay, despite its inconvenience. 

What bugs me is the recent rash of vigilantes who think that they have a right to employ any method to thwart legal Spam. These individuals lump all spam together, harass innocent bystanders by mistaking the source of spam, harass legitimate senders using mafia style extortion techniques, and endeavor to mechanically censor internet email traffic. A more recent article by CNN talks about these vigilanty issues. This is all quite reminiscent of the extreme right to life activists who kill doctors, forgetting that this makes them worse than those they criticize. 

In specific, you should be aware that you (yes, you personally) may be prohibited by these extremists from exchanging any mail with some Internet users; that means legitimate, regular mail. This is because the delivery system used on the internet groups unrelated individuals by association over which they have essentially no control. In the same way you are associated with all the individuals that live in your home town, so the internet automatically associates you with other individuals based on your Internet Service Provider. The commitment to this censorship technique is stated clearly on this page: "The MAPS RBL is a system for creating intentional network outages for the purpose of limiting the transport of known-to-be-unwanted mass e-mail." Such "network outages" are quite capable of effecting any email delivery, not just intended "Spam". 

But let me not waste my time writing about these extremists again, since I already I did so recently when I came up against one of these individuals - a spam complainant that sent me spam! Read our correspondence here, and let it illustrate my point (it covers both extremists and fraudulent email in one case). 

Equally as distressing, is that large Internet backbone providers like UUNet have set policies on Unsolicited Email traffic that is far more stringent than the laws set by our country. Since these "backbone" Internet providers are used by all  Internet Service Providers (ISP), they are monopolies since we have no ability to avoid using them. So, despite that fact that our laws allow legitimate Unsolicited Email, these monopolies are effectively banning us from engaging in this legal activity. This is no different than price fixing. These monopolies get away with this since it is not commonly known what they are doing; and thus I am drawing attention here. 

I am not the only one that believes that legitimate Spam has a place, is here to stay, and that some of its opponents are out of control. Check out the page Direct Email Advertisers Association page, if you want to learn more about responsible mass email. Moreover, there many moderate individuals who are opposed to spam but are fighting it in a legitimate manor, such as discussed here; and the page here lists a number of anti spam sites, many of which make sense. When I compare my recent readings of anti-spam web sites to those I read a couple months back, there has been an obvious shift to fighting spam in a legitimate behavior; however, there are still plenty of vigilantes out there. 

So, some of these Spam haters are hypocritical weasels, out out of control. And they may be blocking YOUR legitimate email. In the name of protecting you, they have concluded that any measures are acceptable even if they contradict their own purpose and current laws. You just don't know about the measures they take. I just wanted to point that out!