LET THERE BE LIGHT: To understand this story, we must return
to the beginning --- September 5th, 2001. One of my associates
had placed a free ad in a newsletter that she had just
subscribed to. For that effort, she was accused of spam! Mind
you the person filing the complaint was not the editor of the
newsletter, but rather a subscriber of the newsletter.
The man was frustrated because he was having difficulty getting
unsubscribed from the newsletter, so he filed a complaint
against everyone who was listed in the body of the message,
rather than just the list owner. It was his frustration,
anger and ignorance that fueled this nasty little affair.
My friend lives in a very small town in Canada that has only one
ISP. The Upline Provider for the local ISP was demanding her
account to be turned off permanently because of this accusation
which was later dropped. The local ISP stood their ground on
behalf of their customer --- my friend --- though this action
could have seriously hampered their ability to provide their
customers with Internet access.
Even in dropping his claim against my friend, the person who
filed the complaint insisted that my friend was somehow still
responsible for his inability to unsubscribe from the newsletter
The person who filed this complaint was using a system designed
by programmer Julian Haight to combat spam email called
INTO THE PIT: In my original copy written September 10th, I had
compared the tactics of the few diehard SpamCop anti-spammers
to the tactics of a terrorist.
In the wake of September 11th, it did not seem appropriate to
refer to the SpamCop fanatics as terrorists. However closely
the tactics of intimidation and coercion used by the SpamCop
fanatics coincides with the tactics used by the al-Qaida
terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden, SpamCop does not
resort to murder.
Due to SpamCop.net's unwillingness to provide a real person
contact for the resolution of complaints, I was forced to turn
to their discussion board to find the resolution I was seeking
--- a resolution, which by the way, was never found.
My major complaint was that for someone to file against another
simply because their email address or website appeared in
someone else's ezine was improper.
Many members had knee jerk reactions to my questioning their
system from within their inner sanctum. Many resorted to name
calling and angry retort until a list administrator called them
down. After the list administrator directly addressed their
inappropriate comments, I received three open apologies from
members of the group.
PUBLISHERS BEWARE. Over the course of the next few days, I
watched their discussions. I was appalled to learn that many
of them put email addresses in circulation just so that they
can torment others with spam accusations.
As an owner of several discussion lists and newsletters, I now
make it a standard policy to bar participation in my groups by
someone sporting a SpamCop.net email address.
I had tried to observe their group with an open mind, as I too
find spam mail to be annoying. I receive nearly 50 pieces a
day from four to five people, who send me the same ads day
after day. What is really annoying is they send the spam to
my autoresponders with a fake address, so I get another 50
messages a day telling me that I used an invalid email address
in my autoresponder message. All have spidered my website to
get the email addresses.
A SPAMCOP SPEAKS. In all fairness, I was leaning towards a
semi-favorable opinion of the SpamCop program until "Jerry"
In his message, Jerry told me things which will just make you
want to explode in frustration.
He said of the innocent who get caught in the cross-fire of the
spam wars: "They should stay home."
He went on to say, "it is far better for thousands of innocents
to burn in Hell than one spammer prevail."
And, "Truth, Justice, and the American Way - or lack thereof -
is irrelevant. Spammers must believe there are no loopholes, no
gray areas, that the righteous will be sacrificed (in vast
numbers if need be) in order to expunge the evildoers."
In conclusion, it was stated, "Spam, like the one true faith,
is in the eye of the beholder. Again, if it looks like a bird,
it might be a duck. Better the condor dies than risk a quack."
These of course are just excerpts. If you would care to read
his entire message to me, you may do so at the bottom of this
NO SAFE HAVEN: On two occasions, I have found myself squarely
in the cross-hairs of the radicals or the angry that wear the
shield of SpamCop. I publish articles for free-reprint on the
web --- much as this article has come to you today.
The SpamCop's suggested that I was hiding behind the free-
reprint rights connected to my articles. They suggested that
I was encouraging spam by making my work available to be
published by anyone. In response to their suggestions that I
am the enemy, I have added one term to my Terms of Reprint:
* You may not use this article in UCE (Unsolicited Commercial
Email). Email distribution of this article must be opt-in
Despite this step, I have been accused of spam twice because my
article appeared in a newsletter that a complaint was lodged
against. In both cases, the SpamCop member did not file a
complaint against the person who was responsible for the
newsletter --- they filed against everyone who was in the body
of the email.
Their complaint was received by the editor of the newsletter,
the article writers, the advertisers, and anyone who was
fortunate enough to be mentioned in the resources section or
the Letters to the Editor. We each had our ISP and Upline
Providers contacted if our email address appeared in the
body of the newsletter and our webhosts contacted if our
domain appeared within the body of the newsletter.
The only way I can completely avoid spam complaints against my
domains is to stop writing altogether. I am a writer. That is
what writers do, we write. To please the SpamCop's, I must quit
being a writer or just "stay home."
POLICING THE POLICE. This is silly. If we cannot trust the cops
to make sure they nab the right person, who can we trust?
There is in fact a movement afoot to bring SpamCop down called
While some of the SpamCop members are simply tired of the
same kinds of spam that irritates us, there are others within
the movement who have an axe to grind with everyone who crosses
To suggest to a SpamCop member that folks should be trained in
the nuances of who to complain against in a complaint, you can
expect a reply like this. "Jerry" answered my suggestion
precisely this way:
"SpamCop users are literate, intelligent, virtually all college
educated, well-versed in spam, and are more computer-savvy than
99% of the world's population. It is presumptuous and arrogant
in the extreme to imply they need a Learning Annex class to
The question I have is to whom the term "arrogant" should be
This is what my webhost said about my last SpamCop spam
complaint, "As far as I know spam is generally considered to be
high volume unsolicited email. So, as long as you are not doing
that then I am not sure why it would be called spam."
CONCLUSION: While the anti-spammers rail on the ugliness of
spam, it seems they are perfectly willing and likely prefer
that the only people permitted to send email should be those
they directly give permission to.
Personally, I find the practices of the radicals of SpamCop to
be more offensive than the activities of the spammers. It is a
terrible thing to say, I know, but the spammers simply irritate
me and the SpamCop fanatics try to oppress my activities.
We all must make a choice, do we "stay home" or do we fight the
oppressors who seek to diminish our freedom.
For other stories on this subject:
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