Its spam Jim, but not as we know itMikey 76 comments
It seems spammers just don't try as hard as they used to. I remember a time when it was difficult to tell a spam email from a legitimate email at first glance. As I look at the crud that has accumulated into my spam folder this week, I would guess the spammers are running out of ideas.
Grammatically incorrect subject lines accompanying the lowest of the low compressed Viagra and Vicodin jpg's make absolutely no misrepresentations of themselves, which in turn is making it all a bit too easy on my spam filter.
But while online spammers may be getting slack (you be the judge), 'offline spam' as I affectionately call it seems to be making headway.
The final straw for us came about a few months ago, when we were occasionally assaulted with late evening telemarketing calls. Except these were not your regular telemarketers. It seems even they are becoming obsolete.
I answer the phone at about 8pm, not long after dinner and desperately trying to keep the noise level to a minimum while attempting to put our daughters to sleep.
- Me: Hello
- Caller: Pause...
- Me: Hello?
- Caller: Pause...
- Me: Hel...
- Caller: Congratulations! You have been selected to receive a free blah blah blah...
- Me: Click.
The caller in this instance like the previous ones was actually a recorded message, complete with cheesy 1980-esque soundtrack. I kid you not. I can only ascertain from this that telemarketers must be tired of copping abuse from regular people like you and I who take offence to having product x pimped towards us at inopportune times - or any time for that matter.
Unfortunately for us Australians, we live in a society where we are expected to be assaulted by offline spam. This is evident when you consider that we are charged for the privilege to not be telephone spammed. That is to say, we have to pay our phone carrier a monthly fee for a private number. A private number means no telemarketers to ruin your evening.
The thing is, when I read through the terms and conditions provided by my carrier, there was nothing mentioned to the effect of "by taking on our services, you are agreeing to be a target of telemarketing services".
That doesn't sound as strange as you might think. When you sign up with an ISP they don't immediately make you a target of spammers. By default our email addresses are anonymous. I believe it is only a matter of time before telecoms are forced to practice the same. Once again, this is where the US of A is leaps and bounds ahead of us. They beat us to the anti-spam legislation, and they beat us to the national 'do not call' list. Kudos to them for paving the way.
The 'do not call' list is probably one the best methods of preventing offline spam. You register your phone number, and telemarketers have to check every number they call first. If you are on the list, they are not allowed to call you. If they do, hefty fines are aplenty per offence.
But the news for Australia is finally good. On 4 April 2006, Senator Helen Coonan (the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) announced plans to establish a national Do Not Call Register which will be operational in 2007. And the best part? Businesses and individuals will not be charged to register on the list, but telemarketers will have to contribute to the cost of running the service. How is that for sweet justice?
The press release can be accessed here. It is good to see a Minister approach a tecnological goal that can actually be achieved, unlike Mr Beazley's laughable proposal.