'Slam Spam' Is Nothing More Than Cynical PR

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In the latest installment of the Direct Marketing Association's mishandling of the spam issue, the trade group has taken a page from O.J. Simpson's post-trial playbook and has vowed to use its resources to find the real spammers.

The DMA revealed to The New York Times last month that it is forming "Operation Slam Spam," under which it claims it will help federal law enforcement officials by identifying and gathering information on spammers who are breaking current laws.

Never mind that Operation Slam Spam sounds suspiciously like the DMA's "Silver Platter Program," announced months ago, in which the DMA said it would help law enforcement by doing much of the "investigative leg work prior to prosecution." The DMA reportedly sent letters to some members asking financial support to the tune of $65,000 each for Slam Spam.

According to the DMA, spam is only e-mail that tries to defraud recipients or mask its source. In case the DMA hasn't been paying attention, the Internet is already lousy with people - many of whom, granted, are completely insane - working to nail these spammers to the wall.

Want to know who the world's most egregious suspected spammers are? Go to Spamhaus.org, the Web site of the London-based spam-blocklisting organization, and peruse its ROKSO list.

ROKSO is a register of spam operations verified to have been thrown off a minimum of three Internet service providers for serious spam offenses, according to copy on Spamhaus.org.

"These are the known, determined and professional spammers, many with criminal records for fraud and theft, responsible for 90 percent of the spam received in North America and Europe," the site says.

Click through the ROKSO tab on top of the Spamhaus.org home page and, voila, a list of suspected spammers appears complete with examples of their work and last known contact information. So rather than sending $65,000 to the DMA, why not send, say, $10,000 to me?

This is not a column in support of vigilantism. Rather, it is intended to point out that the feds have enough non-law-enforcement anti-spam help available if they choose to use it, and the DMA's Operation Slam Spam is cynical public relations at its worst. Don't send them a dime on this one.


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