Tuesday, 30 December 2003

Do spammers fear CAN-SPAM?

Alan Ralsky, Detroit's resident spam lord, told the New York Times that he intends to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act to the best of his ability because he fears a $6 million fine and going to prison. ("An Unrepentant Spammer Vows to Carry On, Within the Law") He says he stopped sending email ads earlier this month, even before President Bush signed the bill into law, to give himself time to bring himself into compliance. Ralsky intends to resume his business in January legally once his new systems are complete. He claims that he will identify himself in each email and honor any opt-out requests that he receives.

We should, of course, take Ralsky's self-serving statements with a grain of salt. He sees himself as an honest businessman with an undeserved bad reputation. He expects ISPs to stop filtering his mail after CAN-SPAM takes effect despite that the law does not require them to do so and that they have at least as great an incentive as before to continue filtering.

If you are still wondering how out of touch Ralsky is, consider an event that occurred thirteen months ago. In November 2002, Mike Wendland of the Detroit Free Press wrote a profile of Ralsky's $750,000 mansion, dubbed the house that spam built. Two weeks later, Wendland reported that anti-spam activists had used the information in his first column to figure out Ralsky's home address.

"They've signed me up for every advertising campaign and mailing list there is," [Ralsky] told [Wendland]. "These people are out of their minds. They're harassing me."

That they are. Gleefully. Almost 300 anti-Ralsky posts were made on the Slashdot.org Web site, where the plan was hatched after spam haters posted his address, even an aerial view of his neighborhood.

"Several tons of snail mail spam every day might just annoy him as much as his spam annoys me," wrote one of the anti- spammers.

Posted at 6:27:50 PM | Permalink
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Topics: Cybercrime, Spam
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