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Spam is the abuse of sending unsolicited message indiscriminately using electronic message system like email and newsgroup. From the sender’s point of view, it’s a form of sending bulk email or message, often to a list of people that subscribes from their list or to a list people that the sender obtain from the company specialize in creating email distribution list. To the receiver, it’s mostly considered as junk email that the receiver does not want. The word spam origin from the canned food SPAM, which is a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation. In the 80’s, the term spam was adopted to describe certain users on the newsgroup frequently sending the same message over and over again to get attention from other users. In the 90’s, company like Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel started to send out bulk advertising message (spam) on the internet to promote their companies.

Unlike traditional marketing strategies sending advertisement through mail, spam is relatively more cost effective for marketer to send out unsolicited marketing messaging like email. Besides the fixed cost of setting up messaging server that sends out spam, it costs marketer relatively nothing to send out message on the internet. Because it’s so cheap and cost efficient, companies and marketer has been abusing the messaging system on the internet to send out unsolicited message to users on the internet. Business and individual users usually find this type of messaging (spam) annoying and waste of time because users have to sort through their email to see which the important messages are and which the spam is.  


Cost of Spam

The cost of spam is unbelievably high. Just in 2007, spam cost U.S. 13 billion including lost of productivity and additional resources like software and hardware to counter spam.(based on research conducted by the State of California).

One of the most costly problems that spam brings is loss of productivity. Like mention before, users often have to sort through their email inbox to find the usually message and delete the unsolicited message. This is a huge waste of money to any organization because employee has to spend extra time to sort through their messages during their work time. Though sorting through email might not take that much time for individual employee, it wastes the company a lot of manpower if every employee has to search through their inbox to find the useful message.

To deal with spam, many companies use filtering system to filter out potential spam email, so the users won’t have to sort through their email.  To implement filter system, companies either have to purchase filtering software or build their own filtering system. However, implementing filtering system could be costly especially to small business that doesn’t have a lot of I.T. resources. Although the spam filtering system has helped companies saved a lot of time and money, sometimes the filtering system also blocks important message from getting to the users. Because this, companies also have to spend money to develop intelligent filtering system that’s more intelligent of blocking spam instead of important message.

Besides the end users, companies that provide the email server and the network also suffer significantly from spam. Spam accounts for 40 to 60 percent of the traffic on the internet. The substantial amount of spam often cost the ISP and email service provider substantial amount of bandwidth. These unwanted spams not takes up bandwidth in the internet, but eventually cost the internet companies to upgrade their equipment to accommodate for the increase in bandwidth.

Some ISP tries to eliminate spam by putting the anti-spam policy in their Acceptable use policy(AUP), in which by accepting the policy, the user agree not to send out unsolicited email or messages. 


Laws and Famous Spammer.

Before 2003, U.S. has no specific that limits the sending of spam. Most of the organizations and law agencies can do little to effectively stop the spammer from internet to send out spam. Because of this, congress passes CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 which limit the uses of spam and require company to give the users to opt-out from their listing. See FTC for CAN SPAM ACT of 2003. However, spam has deemed to be hard to prosecute mainly because the illegal spammer usually hide their identities by using techniques like Spoofing

As the CAN-SPAM act becomes affective, the law agencies and companies like yahoo started to track down people sending out most spam, SPAM KING. Most of these spammers get prosecuted and penalties for violating the CAN-SPAM Act.