Don't Shove Any Spam Down My ThroatAndrew B. Lustigman's article ("Is This the End of Spam as We Know It?," Feb. 1) demonstrates some common misconceptions about the problem, as well as a bit of misinformation.
First, America Online and CompuServe are not Internet service providers in the traditional sense. They are captive services that provide access to the Internet from their systems. True ISPs provide direct access to the Internet without having to portal through another system. AOL and CompuServe have created the impression that they are ISPs through their marketing campaigns, but in fact are losing business market share to more traditional ISP services.
Second, Lustigman demonstrates a lack of understanding about spam and how bothersome it is to Internet users. He makes the statement "... users have no problem looking at banner advertisements on nearly every page, but are horrified to receive an e-mail that they can simply delete with the same ease as throwing away ... junk mail."
Banner ads are on Web pages that I choose to go to. They are not forced upon me, as spam is. I have purchased a small utility that blocks banner ads so that they are not quite as bothersome. I also frequent business-type pages that contain no banner ads at all. I do a tremendous amount of business via e-mail. I communicate with customers, provide support, handle sales issues and so on. During a typical week, I will receive dozens of e-mail messages from my customers. Unfortunately, I also receive dozens of spam messages as well. The problem? My mail system has to download them. Some come with attachments that take extra seconds or minutes to retrieve. I have a high-speed Internet connection, so the download time is minimal, but on a recent trip to South America, I was trapped online for more than 20 minutes while some idiotic spam messages were downloaded. Of 12 e-mail messages, three were legitimate, the rest were junk.
For a service provider, it's worse. Sending a spam message to all the mail recipients on a mail system causes a copy of the message to be sent to every single recipient! If an e-mail server has 10,000 mailboxes, that is 10,000 separate copies of the message, 10,000 separate copies of the attachment. That is not trivial. On several occasions, spammers literally took a small ISP to whom I was connected completely offline because their messages crashed his mail server. Is that harmless? I think not.
Spamming is an irritating, intrusive method of shoving your message down someone's throat. I fully support any legislation that will stop it and I applaud every time a lawsuit is won by a service provider. There are may ways in which information of this type can be delivered, such as opt-in services that are much more customer friendly. I think any legitimate DM company would choose to use these routes, rather than spam.
Robert F. Galivan