Spam- A Menace to Society
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Spam- A Menace to Society

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Have you ever received an e-mail from someone telling you about something you do not want to hear? Well, that is internet spam, and has taken over the personal and business world over the past decade. ...

Have you ever received an e-mail from someone telling you about something you do not want to hear? Well, that is internet spam, and has taken over the personal and business world over the past decade. Spam is a big issue in the US and has cost businesses and people millions of dollars to combat. Please reference my upload describing the effects of Spam on society and also how society plans to deal with this threat.

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Spam- A Menace to Society Document Transcript

  • 1. Joseph SantaBarbaraProfessor CookCOM- 201June 10, 2012 Spam- A Menace to Society Throughout our nations history there have been eras of change. Most recently, our society has seen a hugeincrease in technology and its influence in all facets of life. Technology has created a modern world of efficiency andspectacular sights. However, the influence in technology in cultures around the world has not been all positive. Withwide-spread use of anything, there is always the threat of misconduct. The use of technology has not affected anindustry more than the financial and business world. Companies use technology as a means to increase profitabilityand also to increase their attractiveness to new customers. Spam by definition is "simply unsolicited e-mail, sent inbulk. Intrinsically it presents a free rider problem: e-mail sent in large quantities has a significant cost (both onrecipients and on network administrators), which cannot be charged to a spammer who has sufficient technical skill toconceal their identity" (Hedley, 2006) (pg. 227). Spam is an intrusive concept, birthed by the technology boom, and has been highly disputed and regarded asan invasion of privacy by most. However, businesses are taking the side that using spam is a way to get their companynames out there. However, there is no room for spam in the business world. Spam is highly regarded as unprofessionaland not a means to get a solid client base. Spam can use information from the web, which is a public forum, to tailortheir e-mails to display personal information of the people from which are receiving their e-mails. "Spam producersuse databases of e-mail addresses collected from public websites, create e-mail lists, or purchase subscriber lists"(Swartz, 2003)This is viewed as an invasion of privacy by most. There are several laws that have been put in place forthe current time period and also steps in process that are for the future control of spam. Spam is considered under different genres across cultures and the keys to success in international business arethe understanding the cultural impact of spam and whether or not it is accepted or not. Spam is not only affecting thebusiness world, but it is also increasing the chances for users to be susceptible to unwanted and inappropriate material.Overall, spam is a concept which is not good for society. It costs users and businesses material amounts of moneyeach year to fix the problem from which is a direct cause from the use of spam. However, there are many regulationsand discussions in place to help mitigate this issue for the future. Spam is a concept that can be judged under different lights. For some, spam is a key tactic to the profitabilityof their companys business plan through the bulk communication of their advertisement through means of e-mail or
  • 2. pop-ups. For others, it is an intrusive and expensive concept that infringes on individuals rights. "As spam grew inbulk and began to become commonplace, it was perceived as a distinct problem, at least by ISPs. Most of the expensewas falling on them: an ISP whose customers were being heavily spammed might find that their servers wereoverwhelmed by the need to process the spam; and when the recipients of the spam complained, they looked to theirISP for a solution to the problem" (Hedley, 2006) (pg 229).Individuals computers run through Internet ServiceProviders or ISPs and ISPs have certain bandwidth that they offer to clients, the more bandwidth the faster thecomputer, however the more expensive it is. When individuals receive spam it takes up the bandwidth that the ISPsprovide, which the users pay for, due to the traffic. Spam costs individuals money and the opportunity cost associatedwith the work they could have gotten done if their internet service was working properly. Not only does this affect theusers bank accounts, it also affects the ISPs, who are trying to make money as well. As stated above in the referencefrom the scholarly journal, users seek their ISPs for help when spam is slowing down their service. This increases theamount of man-power it takes to support the volume of calls and it costs money to hire someone to identify the issueand then come up with a solution. The magnitude of the problem is described as, "spamming causes manifoldproblems. It wastes time for users opening spam with misleading subject lines, wastes Internet resources trying toblock it, consumes storage and bandwidth, and costs money fighting it" (Mir, 2010) (pg. 33). Again, spam is a systemic problem. There are immense effects from the implementation of spam intechnology. Spam affects business in a major way. As stated above, it cost a material amount of money to combat theissues of spam and studies have been completed and show that at its peak spam was increasing at an alarming rate."MessageLabs, which sorts through 10 million e-mails daily and inspects more than three billion e-mails are says thatan average of one in 12 e-mails was spam in 2002. But by November 2002, one in three e-mails was spam. Because ofthat trend, the firm predicts that spam will outpace real e-mail this year" (Rich, 2003) (pg 9). The increase intechnology is only making it easier for spammers to complete their tasks and harder for legislative bodies to prosecuteand define those who are the roots of the issue. "The increase is a result of technology improvements that have madespammers jobs easier. Industry experts estimate that about one-third of the more than 73 billion e-mails sent everydayare unwanted commercial pitches" (Rich, 2003) (pg. 9). Businesses are consumed with spam and its not only affectingthe profitability of the service providers. "A recent Ferris Research Study found that spam costs U.S. corporations $8.0billion annually, $2.5 billion for European businesses." (Rich, 2003) (pg 9). That is a huge bottom line factor for
  • 3. financial statement presentation purposes. This adds a huge expense financial statement line item to a companys profitand loss statement which can determine whether or not their company is profitable in the eyes of investors. Also, with spam as defined as bulk e-mail many users attribute a sense of violation. E-mail addresses areconsidered to be personal information to people in many situations in life and when this address is given out to thewrong people, spam can occur. In many spam e-mails, there is personal information that gives individuals an eeriefeeling especially in a time period where identity theft and online misconduct is at an all time high. "Cyberspace hasbeen equated with the home of an individual which needs protection from unwanted communication" (Mir, 2010) (pg43). Not only do individuals get a sense of violation with the implementation of spam into technology, but it alsoopens the doors for children to be exposed to graphic images. This is not a good trend for society. The World WideWeb does increase the chances for people to expose to socially unacceptable content, but the key with spam is that it isinvoluntary. Due to the involuntary nature of this exposure, parents of children who spend time on computers andother technology means, have to spend their earnings on protection such as parental controls. One would think that when there is a malignant problem, then there should be a solution, or one in the workto help mitigate the risk of a material problem. "Just as the volume of spam has increased since 2000, so too had thenumber of anti-spam laws around the world" (Schryen, 2007) (pg. 24). This is a must in for the future of the internet,e-commerce and e-mail itself. Spam or bulk e-mails are desensitizing the use of e-mail to where if this problemcontinues without a viable solution, then e-mail users could boycott the use. Legislation that has been put into play tohelp mitigate the use of bulk e-mails from large username lists. One can be put on these lists by clicking a link to awebsite automatically entering their personal information onto this companys mailing list. However, to help mitigatethis subconscious agreement, there have been parameters set for e-mail lists. Now users have to opt-in or opt-out toeither deny these bulk e-mails or to accept the receipt of them. Opt-in means that one physically clicks a box on awebsite or in some other fashion agrees to receive e-mails from the applicable company. Opt-out is a tactic used bycompanies that is makes users physically click a box or similar fashion to not receive e-mails. This is a marketingtactic used by companies in e-commerce. Many people are in such a rush, or have so much bulk e-mail to go throughbecause of spam, that they do not completely read online contracts or similar sorts. Therefore, one might miss the factthat at the end of the website, they needed to un-check a box that was already pre-filled out, in order to bedisregarded from the e-mail listing. Marketers for e-commerce businesses find that this tactic is useful because manypeople are negligent to completely reading all contracts and material pertinent to the task at hand.
  • 4. In the early 2000s there was litigation in several instances where individuals tried to seek monetarycompensation for damages caused from spam and unsolicited e-mail. "Laws may make further requirements of e-mails. The CANSPAM Act 2003, for example, prohibits the use of a harvested e-mail address, requires thatadvertisement or solicitations are identified clearly and conspicuously, and requires that each e-mail contains afunctioning return e-mail address or other Internet-bases mechanism that allows the recipient to opt-out of thecommercial e-mail lists" (Schryen, 2007) (pg. 30). The CANSPAM Act of 2003 was the first national standards forthe sending of commercial e-mail and requires the Federal Trade Commission to enforce its provisions. CANSPAMstands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act. When this legislation came outin 2003, many people were furious because it thought of as a law to allow spam, which it did in some fashion.However, many people did not research this legislation. There are an immense amount of provisions set in this act toprotect the public and mostly, children. However, there are several issues with this act, "Personal emails and emailupdates and advertisements that have been consented to be are not covered under this law. Also not covered aretransactional or relationship messages, which are emails that pertain to agreed-upon transactions or emails that updatea customers in an existing business relationship. That is because these types of emails are not technically spam - theyare a result of previous consent or a business relationship." (Spam Laws: The United States CAN-SPAM Act, 2003).This is a loop-hole in the law. Those who are most affected by spam are the public through personal e-mail. The future of e-mail is in question with all of the effects of spam on the community. The only ways to solvethe issues of spam is harsh and drastic measures. "Some proposals would require drastic changes to the e-mail system:for example, by limiting acceptance to known senders or to those who satisfy challenge/response protocols." (Coffee,2003) This is a scary thought for the future of e-mail. Responding to protocol in order to send an e-mail may reducethe affects of bulk, un-solicited e-mail, but it increases the time it takes to send a simple message. This increase intime to send a simple e-mail will deter individuals from using e-mail all together. As technology increases, so will the ability for individuals to commit crimes and negatively affect the public.Technology is a venue of society that has no bounds and seems endless in its ability to encompass all realms of life.Technology affects communication in a huge way and has a direct relation with e-mail communication and the misuseof techniques which cost individuals a material amount of money. Spam affects all facets of life and can influencethose who do not expect it. Marketers and advertisers use different spam tactics to increase their profitability by
  • 5. getting their name out there. However, due to the distaste in society from which spam has, it is not proper businessetiquette to use spam and is not a profitable business plan. Spam costs businesses and individuals material amounts ofmoney. It costs money for individuals to protect themselves against the threat of spam and for businesses; it takesaway employees time from actual work. This delay in the productivity in employees deters profitability. The mainreason for all of the issues faced is due to the fact that laws and regulations did not keep pace with the technologyboom.
  • 6. BibliographyCoffee, P. (2003). Future of spam control. EWEEK , 38.Hedley, S. (2006). A Brief History of Spam. Information & Communication Technology Law , 224-238.Mir, F. A. (2010). Control of spam: a comparative approach with special reference to India. Information &Communications Technology Law , 27-59.Rich, M. (2003). Spam Costs Businesses $13 Billion Annually. The Information Management Journal , 9.Schryen, G. (2007). Anti-Spam Legislation: An Analysis of Laws and Their Effectiveness. Information &Communications Technology Law , 18-32.Spam Laws: The United States CAN-SPAM Act. (2003). Retrieved June 11, 2012, from Spam Laws:http://www.spamlaws.com/spam-laws.htmlSwartz, N. (2003). The International War on Spam. Capital Edge: Legislative & Regulatory Update , 18-24.