Wednesday 1 March 2006

Free Speech is No Excuse to Spam

It seems that some bulk email senders are getting spun up about developments such as Goodmail and Bonded Sender. For example, says it's, "Threatening the Internet as we know it ... The very existence of online civic participation and the free Internet as we know it are under attack."

Balderdash and piffle, say I. Nothing's really changed -- if users are complaining about some email, service providers will block the sender, whether or not they pay some sort of a bond or fee. There's no substantive change here. If you're an existing sender with a good reputation, you should have nothing to worry about -- well, nothing new anyway.

I suspect there's an underlying agenda to some of the moaning. There are some quasi-political and religious groups emailing indiscriminately, and hiding under the flag of Free Speech. That's no excuse -- people will still click the This Is Spam button, and so future mail will get blocked. Just because the message isn't commercial, it doesn't mean that users won't perceive it as spam. I've no sympathy for senders who use those tactics.

My advice to groups who are concerned about their continued ability to communicate legitimately is this: if you find that your email's being blocked, work with your email service provider and that of the recipient to figure out how you should act in the future. Don't act as if it's your deity-given right to send email to whomever you wish. Those that run email services are perfectly entitled to act on user spam complaints. As the saying goes, "My server -- my rules."