What Exactly is Spam?

Spam, as defined in the context of computers, the Internet and electronic messaging, is a term used to designate unsolicited bulk electronic messaging and communication. In particular, spam is unsolicited bulk mailings that are commercially oriented. It is most commonly used in advertising, but it is also used to perpetrate religious, political or other types of messages. Spam is, often times, considered the electronic equivalent of junk postal mail, telemarketing or broadcast faxing. Spam got its bad name and reputation from the advertisement of ill reputable and questionable products, such as pornography, pyramid schemes, fad products, pump-and-dump stocks, etc.

Spam is delivered via several mediums, to include:

· E-mail messages

· Search engines

· Instant messaging

· Web blogs

· Usenet newsgroups

· Text messaging mobile phones

· Internet telephony

The growth of spam is a result of the cost benefit to initiators, who need only devise and develop distribution lists. The other associated costs of spam, such as bandwidth, message management and loss of productivity, become the responsibility of recipients of the messages, ISPs or other public and private entities.

In 2003, the US passed the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act of 2003, which establishes standards for sending commercial e-mail. More specifically, the act is intended "to regulate interstate commerce by imposing limitations and penalties on the transmission of unsolicited, commercial electronic mail via the Internet". The act establishes the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as the overseer of its provisions.

The act establishes electronic mail as extremely important in communication since it "provides an opportunity for the development and growth of frictionless commerce", which is being threatened by unsolicited commercial email. The act establishes the following as criminal behaviors when used in connection with foreign or interstate electronic mail:

· Knowingly accessing a protected computer without authorization

· Intentionally deceiving or misleading the origin of messages

· Falsifying header information

· Falsifying registration information for 5 or more e-mail accounts or 2 or more domain names

· Falsely representing one's self as the registrant of 5 or more IP addresses

· Obtaining e-mail addresses through improper means

· Perpetrating fraud, identity theft, child pornography, obscenity and the sexual exploitation of children.

Criminal penalties include a fine and/or imprisonment for up to 5 years dependent upon:

· The volume of electronic transmissions

· The amount of falsified information

· Losses incurred by others

· Monetary gains from the act

· Whether the act was committed in furtherance of an felony

· Prior offenses.

Civil penalties are dependent upon the jurisdiction placing the charges and may range from hundreds of dollars to millions of dollars, dependent upon the severity of the crimes and losses involved. Also, property traceable to proceeds from monetary gains and equipment used to commit an offense may be forfeited to the US government.

As critics of the law argue, the legislation fails to dictate to marketers and advertisers, not to spam. In fact, the act does not make reference to the term, "spam", except as used in the name, CAN-SPAM. The act makes reference to the phrase, commercial electronic mail message, and defines it to be "any electronic mail message, the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service (including content on an Internet website operated for a commercial purpose)".

Legislation is intended to curb practices inherent in spamming, such as e-mail harvesting, dictionary attacks and using viruses and Trojans to perpetrate messages. The act establishes the following with respect to commercial electronic mail messages:

· A message must contain a legitimate return address.

· A message must include and specify a method to opt-out of receiving further messages. The ability to opt-out must be available for 30 days.

· The sender may not initiate messages after 10 days of receipt of an opt-out.

· The sender may not sell, lease, exchange or transfer the opt-out e-mail address to an affiliate.

· The sender may offer a menu of options that allow the recipient to either opt-out or opt-in to future messages*.

· A message must include an identifier that specifies the message as an advertisement or solicitation.

· Messages containing sexually oriented material must contain clearly identifiable markings or notices

· A message must include a valid, physical, postal address by which the sender may be contacted.

· The sender may not send messages to addresses that were knowingly acquired from proprietary websites and ISPs, through automated methods. Particularly, when the site or ISP provides notice of their refusal to give, sell or transfer addresses for the purpose of initiating electronic mail messages.

· The sender may not create automated scripting and other means to gain multiple email addresses for the purpose of transmitting illegal messages.

· The sender may not transmit messages from a computer or email address obtained without authorization.

*Unlike opt-out advertising, which allows the recipients of advertisement to discontinue any unwanted advertisements from the sender, opt-in advertising allows the advertiser to request to have specific advertisement sent. The recipient may allow or deny permission to have further advertisement sent. If allowed, the advertiser immediately includes that e-mail address to its distribution list. Another option is, double opt-in advertising, which is similar to opt-in advertising except that once the recipient grants permission to send advertisements, a confirmation request is sent to the recipient to verify that they did, indeed, allow the permission. The e-mail address is added to the distribution list only after the recipient has positively responded to the confirmation request.

CAN-SPAM is not intended to provide cause for the general public to sue spammers, individually or in class action suits. It is designed to allow enforcement by the FTC and other federal agencies for the benefit of the general public. Individuals remain privy to the state laws and regulations of their particular jurisdictions.

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In The News:

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How To Completely Block, Stop Robocalls, Spam, Scams On iPhone, Android  ForbesWhile apps provide some level of protection against robocalls, spam, and scams, they're not bulletproof. When all else fails, try this nuclear option.
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How to Block and Report Spam Calls and Text Messages  The New York TimesUnwanted calls and spam texts are annoying, but you can do something about them. Here's how to block and report them so they won't bother you again.
Here's how to block robocalls on iPhone and Android  Fox NewsUnwanted calls are often harmless but some are after your credit card information, IDs or passwords. All are a distraction and a waste of your time.
Here’s the very latest in the fight against robocalls  Boston.comNEW YORK (AP) — Federal regulators voted Thursday to give phone companies the right to block unwanted calls without getting customers' permission first.
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Help Desk: How do you stop robocalls to your landline?  The Washington PostOur tech columnist answers your questions about how to block spam, nuisance and fraudulent calls on your home phone.
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How to enable spam call filtering on your Android phone  TechRepublicGoogle recently added spam protection to the Phone app on Android devices. Here's how to enable it.
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Top iPhone, Android apps for blocking robocalls  Fox NewsMajor carriers and app developers are ramping up their tactics for tackling robocalls on the iPhone and Android devices.
Stop robocalls to your phone once and for all  CNETTake a few minutes and keep your phone from constantly ringing.
You Can’t Stop Robocalls. You Shouldn’t Have To.  The New York TimesToday's solutions for fighting spam and scam calls are ineffective. But the onus should be on the phone companies, not you, to solve this problem.
The iPhone app that stops those horrible spam calls just got a great new feature  BGREarlier this month, we told you about an app that sadly has become a must-have for pretty much anyone with a cell phone. The issue of spam calls is a problem ...
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Check out the apps that will intercept robocalls and tell you when they're done  ABC NewsPesky calls from telemarketers may be easier to combat than ever. Interested in Technology? Add Technology as an interest to stay up to date on the latest ...
T-Mobile switches on spam call protections for some cellphone users  Washington PostMany of T-Mobile's wireless customers will soon see a new “Caller Verified” message when they receive calls on their cellphones, the company said Thursday.
7 ways to stop robocalls now  Fox NewsHello! Please don't hang up… did you know that you could save a bundle on…? This is a robocall, another automated telemarketer. Nowadays, robocalls make ...
Robocalls: What AT&T, Comcast and Verizon are doing about them  CNNRobocalls are an annoyance at best and a dangerous scam at worst. AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and other telecom giants want to tamp down on the scourge of ...
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Savvy Senior: How seniors can stop frustrating robocalls  Allentown Morning CallQ: Is there anything seniors can do to stop perpetual robocalls? It seems like I get five to 10 a day on my home and cell phone, and I'm sick of it! -- Frustrated ...
4 Smartphone Apps That Aggressively Block Spam Calls  The Wall Street JournalInundated with junk calls? Stop pesky robo-dialers with these anti-spam apps.
Spam calls: how to stop the robots from calling your iPhone or Android  The VergeIt seems like robocalls are only getting worse, but there are several ways of reducing the scam calls and these annoying, constant interruptions.
How to stop robocall spammers and exact revenge  Boston.com“Call me, maybe?” is on the brink of becoming “Call me, never.” Robocalls, those computer-generated shysters, are making some people stop answering the ...
How to Block Calls on an Android Phone  TechliciousTired of the endless spam calls and area code spoofing scams? Here are four ways to block those annoying calls on your Android phone.
How to better protect yourself from robocalls on your iPhone  MacworldThe solution requires a lot more technology on the backend, but you can make inroads.
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Hiya Says There Were 85B Robocalls Worldwide in 2018  The Mac ObserverHiya has released [PDF] its first Global Robocall Radar Report, and the results are troubling. Global spam calls grew 325% to 85 billion calls in 2018 (via ...
A new government app will allow you to stop telemarketing and spam calls  Brag MagazineA new government app allows people to register their numbers and block spam and telemarketing calls before they reach you.
Behold: This is the iPhone app you’ve been waiting for to stop those horrible spam calls  BGRSpam calls have been a problem in the United States for quite some time now, but things have really gotten awful over the past couple of years. The issue varies ...
7 paid apps you can download for free on April 17th  BGRUntil Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint get their act together, there's not much we can do about spam calls and texts. But if you want to try to solve the problem ...
As Scams Skyrocket, How To Stop Robocalls On Android And iPhone  ForbesNever assume you're too smart to fall for a phone scam.
The Beginning of the End of Robocalls  New York MagazineBy the end of 2019, spam phone calls could be on the ropes.
Review: How to stop robocall spammers -- and exact revenge  Chicago Daily HeraldWhile lawmakers debate what to do about the roboscourge, engineers have cooked up some clever ways to make bots work for us, not against us. The right app ...
Stop the robocalls: Tips to block scammers for good  wtvr.comRobocalls happen day and night, ringing your cellphone, your landlines and wasting your time. Although many of us are on the national and state "Do Not Call ...
Relief From Spoofed Robocalls Is on the Way  ConsumerReports.orgThe telecom industry says that new technology to manage spoofed robocalls may start rolling out in the coming year. Consumer Reports tells you what you need ...
How To Stop Robo And Scam Calls Once And For All  HuffPostCursing like a sailor into the phone doesn't actually work, you know.
'It's an arms race': Inside the war on robocalls  Yahoo FinanceWhat will finally stop unwanted spam calls? It's a hard-fought battle but a change called STIR/SHAKER is coming. Here's what's going on and when.
Don't pick up: how to stop these annoying robocalls for good  USA TODAYRobocalls are constant and they're costing phone owners money. Here's how to identify and stop them.
Google Chrome to block spam ads starting July 9  Gadgets NowGoogle Chrome to block spammy ads in all the countries around the world.
T&G Poll: Do you use spam or robocall-blocker apps on your phone?  Worcester TelegramNew measures by U.S. regulators could help thwart some of the billions of robocalls received in the U.S. The Federal Communications Commission said ...
Spam calls: How Google is fighting robocalls on Android.  SlateThe problem of robocalling is getting worse. In April, robocall-blocking *service* YouMail estimated 3.4 billion such calls were made—900 million more that month ...
Stop the Robocalls: Tips to Hang up on Them for Good  WQAD MolineRobocalls happen day or night, ringing our cellphones, our landlines and are often nothing but a big waste of our time. Billions of robocalls happen each year If ...
As FCC Steps In, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, May Get Boost To Stop Robocalls  ForbesThe Federal Communication Commission wants the telecom industry to step up attacks on robocallers, providing another tool for consumers.
The Android phone app has pre-call blocking at last  SlashGearThe official Google Phone app has an update in the pipeline that'll bring far better call blocking features than Android's ever had before. This is the first.
If someone named 'Scam Likely' is calling you, don't pick up  USA TODAYThe four major wireless carriers are trying out new ways to combat the rising epidemic of spam callers.
#TechBytes: How to get rid of spam messages on Android  NewsBytesFor years, junk messages have been marring our experience. These messages come from spammers, who either try to get clicks on malicious links or promote ...
[Update: Contacts] Long-awaited robust call blocking features may soon come to Google Phone app  Android PoliceYour smartphone already lets you block annoying callers so that you never have to deal with them again, but what if it could be proactive? Android could soon ...
All Verizon Subscribers Will Get Free Spam And Robocall Protection  UbergizmoVerizon, the country's largest mobile carrier, has announced that it's going to provide all of its subscribers with free span and robocall protection for free.
How to Block SMS Spam on iOS 11  NDTVTired of spam text messages? iOS 11 allows you to block them easily, but you need to install third-party apps for this feature.
News Protecting your privacy: How to block robocalls Matthew Smith 7:31 AM, Jan 28, 2019  WXYZDETROIT (WXYZ) — If you're tired of spam phone calls, robocalls and telemarketers, there's bad news for 2019: experts expect even more robocalls in 2019.
Verizon Stops RoboCalls: Just The Facts  Digital Media SolutionsVerizon recently added additional cybersecurity measures to address robocalling and spam calls.
Google intros CallJoy virtual customer service agent for SMBs  ZDNetCallJoy is a cloud-based phone agent and spam blocker that aims to help SMBs measure, automate and improve customer *service*.
The Wily Spammers Infiltrating Google Hangouts and Calendar  SlateLeonarda, Dmitriy, Satish, Joana, and Alyce managed to force their way into my Google Hangouts, and I couldn't block them.
New Apple patent suggests iPhones could warn against spam calls one day  The VergeA new Apple patent could finally give iPhone owners some relief from spam calls by automatically recognizing a fake call and warning users accordingly.
8 Best Android Call Blocker App List For 2018 | Filter Spam Calls  FossbytesMany third-party apps can shield your device from unwanted calls and also help you to recognize the unknown numbers. We have made the best Android call ...
John Oliver Tackles Robocalls by Flooding FCC With Spam Calls  PCMagThe host of HBO's Last Week Tonight has come up with a new way to encourage FCC commissioners to take a harder stance on robocalls: by robocalling them.
How to stop robocalls — and even get some revenge  The Providence JournalRobocalls, those computer-generated shysters, are making some people stop answering the phone altogether. But a variety of apps and phone services can ...
Phone companies are promising major leaps forward in spam call blocking technology  Cleveland 19 NewsBoth AT&T and Verizon set to roll out anti-robocall efforts, with AT&T announcing a partnership with Comcast to develop a call authentication *service* and ...
Top 10 Best Android Apps — Call Blocking — July 2018  Android HeadlinesSpammy and malicious calls are a serious annoyance, and even a danger for some Android owners. Iffy calls can cost you your time, your sanity, and in some ...
Here’s How to Block Robocalls on iPhone, Android  Eurweb.comForbes has listed ways to get a handle on these robocalls, spam and scams in the new year...check it out the recommended tips.
Blocking spam calls with mobile apps - Nation  The Star OnlinePETALING JAYA: From telemarketers offering credit cards and insurance to criminal Macau scam syndicates, Malaysian mobile phone users are being hounded ...
A how-to guide to stop robocall spammers and exact revenge  The Mercury NewsBy Geoffrey A. Fowler | The Washington Post. “Call me, maybe?” is on the brink of becoming “Call me, never.” Robocalls, those computer-generated shysters, ...
Gmail now blocks an extra 100 million spam messages every day  SoftonicGoogle is winning the battle against spam 100 million emails at a time.
Buckeye Broadband introduces robocall blocker for customers  Toledo BladeBuckeye Broadband has announced a new “robocall blocker” system available to its phone customers that it says will “eliminate telemarketers, political ...
Quickly block spam calls with Castle, the anti-robocall app  KnowTechieSpam callers are getting smarter. No longer is it just 1-800 numbers and random strings of numbers, it is your area code and prefix. Castle could help.
Verizon says they plan to block 'robocalls'  Fox 35 OrlandoIf you've been getting more "robocalls," or unsolicited calls on your cellphone, you're not alone.

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