Online Marketers Say So-Called Spam Threat Is Overblown
Internet marketers say that spam is simply part of the cost of doing business on a free Internet, and a small cost at that. Third of our three-part series on the costs of spam in the enterprise.
We received about 100 e-mail messages from mail administrators describing the problems they have with spam. But we also received a few messages from people in the Internet marketing business, saying the spam problem is overhyped.
This is the final part of a three-part series of letters we received about spam problems in the enterprise. In part one, readers described the technology costs. In part two, they described staff costs, and their fears about lawsuits from employees exposed to pornographic spam and other offensive materials on workplace systems.
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Robert Fleming, president of the eMarketing Association, writes: "Really, there are more important things in life. In California we cannot get a law passed for seat belts in school buses, but we have anti-spam laws! Does this make sense? Nobody likes spam, junk mail, commercials, billboards, telephone solicitors and of course door-to-door salespeople.
"But hey, everything comes with a price, including freedom. What do you think the cost of unwanted direct mail is? Hundreds of billions. Spam consumes bandwidth? Really, so what? Direct mail consumes trees, and door to door salespeople put my family at risk. I wish I had a delete key for the nut bags that knock on my door, trying to change my religion.
"How about directing some of that energy toward the people that infect our systems with viruses, a far more serious and worthy problem?
"We get about 50 calls a week from people complaining about spam. Our recommended solution: The delete key.
"Remember, that you at eWeek, Yahoo!, etc. owe your jobs to one thing: the Internet. And keep in mind that the ONLY reason that the Internet has the acceptance that it does is because of the freedom of the Internet.
"This anarchy, so to speak, is why we have e-business to begin with. There would be little e-commerce, or magazines to report on it, if that freedom had been riddled with restrictions. Nobody owns the Internet, there is no Internet, Inc., it is a free system and it will be hard if not impossible to control it. Period.
"We think that spam blockers are a good solution to the problem. Much better than legislation that wastes our time and money on a problem that government can never control anyway. I think that software solutions will become more effective in blocking unwanted email, after all there is a lot of money in doing so. But in the meantime, creating a witch hunt for spammers is ridiculous. There will always be spammers as long as we have a free and open system. It is the price we pay for our business."
Sean Brunnock, president of Server Corp., said: "I run Server.com which has been hosting mailing lists for over 6 years. We currently host over 1,000 mailing lists.
"I believe that many spam fighters are attacking the problem irrationally. I have dealt with ISPs who think nothing of reading their customers' e-mail and determining what is spam and what is not. I have dealt with ISPs who make it easy to report e-mail as spam and hide the unsubscribe instructions that we send with each message. There are several large ISPs that block messages from Server.com without ever communicating with us.