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Bill Platt of The Phantom Writers, invites you to reprint this article in your print publication, ezine, or on your website. This is a Free-Reprint article. The only requirements for publishing this article are:

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  • Caught In the Cross-Fire of the Spam War
    Copyright 2001, Bill Platt

    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 
    in question! 
    
    The person who filed this complaint was using a system designed 
    by programmer Julian Haight to combat spam email called 
    SpamCops.net.
    
    
    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" 
    lashed out.
    
    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 
    page:
       http://shopmystate.com/niba/BillP.html
    
    
    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 
      email only.
    
    
    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 
    "Arresting SpamCop":
       
    http://www.niba.shopmystate.com/
    
    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 
    their path.
    
    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 
    detect spam." 
    
    The question I have is to whom the term "arrogant" should be 
    applied?
    
    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:
    http://www.niba.shopmystate.com/
    http://www.smithfam.com/news/june01m.html
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    http://unlimited.net.nz/unlimited/unlimited.nsf/ArchiveByDate/
    753E5579AF08A709CC256AC3006ED14B

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    This article was originally written: December, 2001


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