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Spam Kings by Brian S McWilliams

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9/11

In the spam wars, the best defense is often a good offense. That's why Davis Hawke began spiking his spams with intimidating legalese in September 2000. At the bottom of the ads he placed a notice informing recipients that QuikSilver's spam was sent "in compliance with federal guidelines governing the transmission of unsolicited commercial email."

Hawke also added a link to a page at SpamLaws.com containing the text of the Unsolicited Electronic Mail Act of 1999, also known as H.R. 3113. He closed the spams with his favorite excerpt from the Act: "Unsolicited commercial electronic mail can be an important mechanism through which businesses advertise and attract customers in the online environment."

Never mind that H.R. 3113 had died in the U.S. Senate in July of 2000. And Congress had so far failed to approve any other federal laws regulating junk email. Hawke's disclaimer did the trick: it kept would-be anti-spammers at bay. (Hawke wasn't the only junk emailer using the technique. In fact, at one point in 2001, the operator of SpamLaws.com, law professor David E. Sorkin, put up a notice explaining that he was not responsible for disclaimers included in spam emails that linked to his site.)

Before it languished in the Senate, H.R. 3113 had received support from two powerful opposing groups: the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and a grassroots organization known as the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email. CAUCE was led by a number of respected anti-spam veterans and ...

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