Spam, spam, spam, spam


11-03-2003

Spam is in danger of ruining e-mail, thus bringing down one of the key enablers of the knowledge economy.

Whether SMS (Send Money Scams) from Nigeria or unsolicited adverts for computer accessories, spam is making opening my Inbox more of a chore.



While responsible mass-mailers have a 'de-list' reply service, many don't. One of the worst abuses was the e-mail I received recently implying darkly that my address was on a mailing list going out to millions and kindly informing me that the only way to delist was by telephoning a premium number - so that the spammer profited directly from each victim who delisted.



In my view, e-mail with its potential to target 'push' communications on those who need them is potentially much more potent than the Internet, where the hope is that search engines will help browsing users 'pull' out data they are looking for.



Email is too good a tool to be allowed to be spoiled by the lack of discipline of a relatively small minority.



So what do we do? Set our email filters to only accept mail from 'trusted' sources? Put a tax on sending of emails (hey we could use an icon with the Queen's head on it and sell it at Post Offices!)? ..or employ people to read our mail for us and filter out the junk. The world is going mad!



Peter Hewkin, Cambridge