The Global Problem of Spamming and Unsolicited E-mail
Spamming and unsolicited email has become a growing issue all over the world. As the internet grows, so does the problem of spamming. With the evolution of the internet, there has been a love and hate relationship among the spammed and the spammers.
Before going into discussing further about spamming, we have to actually define spamming:
Spamming is sending a message or multiple copies of a message to many inappropriate newsgroups or sending a single or multiple copies of a message to any mailbox for an individual who did not specifically request the email1.
If we look at it even more simply we can define spamming as “any unsolicited e-mail”2. Therefore any email that is sent without the will or asking of the receiver can be more or less called as spamming. This does not mean that the email is not desired or disliked by the receiver. Often users might actually find certain type of unsolicited e-mail helpful. But whether liked or disliked if the email that is sent is ‘unsolicited’, it becomes spam and in some cases illegal. It is often misunderstood when it come to quantity. Often people mistakenly think that spamming only occurs when large numbers of emails are sent. But on the contrary even a single email that is ‘unsolicited’ or un-called for can be termed as spam.
Spamming can take a variety of forms. Certain forms of emails may not even appear to be a spam at first but if we carefully examine the above definition and compare with it we will notice that these emails are actually spam. One of the most common forms of emails that we receive are advertisements. It is also the most abused term to describe spam. People use email advertisements and spam interchangeably. But the important question is: Are all advertisements spam? The answer to this question is very simple: No, not all advertisements are spam. If we take a look at the above definition of spam, an advertisement is spam only when it has not been subscribed by the receiver.
Another common form of email is chained emails. An example of such an email would say things like “If you don’t send this email to 20 other people you will die” or emails which encourage forwarding by promising money and other rewards.
Chain letters generally include a list of names and addresses with instructions to send something - say, a small sum of money - to one or more names on a list. Then, you are instructed to remove one or more names from the list, add your name to the bottom of the list, and email the letter to a certain number of other people with directions on how to "continue the chain."3
Almost all of these emails are somehow or the other unsolicited and therefore can be generally called as spam.
Problems faced by users and services providers
The important question that arises from this is that: Is spamming a problem? If it is a problem, then what kind of problem arises and who are the victims and...