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Open Letter to Anti-Spammers on Canada


By Ken Magill

Dear Anti-Spammers:


Canadian authorities last week announced they would begin enforcing the country’s long-awaited anti-spam law in July! Yaaaay! Clap clap clap.

Boris the Russian spammer just pooed in his pants.

I know no one expects Canada’s law to have any real impact on criminal spam outside the country’s borders. But it was necessary to pass Canada’s anti-spam law because commercial emailers who don’t implement best practices are such a nuisance, right?

Take my inbox for example: I get at least three unsolicited commercial email delivered into my inbox a year.

Can you imagine? It’s excruciating. Whenever I get one of those emails I feel so … so violated. Each one is a giant, crushing weight on my chest. I have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of them.

Some days I sit in front of my computer all day with my hands balled into fists on the sides of my head rocking back and forth, agonizing over those three spam messages Gmail misses per year.

Every morning as I turn on my computer, my hands are clammy with fear that today is the day. Today is the day I get one email I didn’t sign up for.

And when it happens, I cry out in abject despair: “AAAUUUUGFUGNUGGOWBLAHNAHFAHNAHGOOGOOGOO!!!!!” Really, that’s what I say.

So thank you. Thank you so much for providing me with some possible blessed relief from three unwanted emails a year.

Thank you for giving me three fewer reasons to shriek “AAAUUUUGFUGNUGGOWBLAHNAHFAHNAHGOOGOOGOO!!!!!” every year.

My wife thanks you, too. The first time I shrieked “AAAUUUUGFUGNUGGOWBLAHNAHFAHNAHGOOGOOGOO!!!!!” she thought one of our cats was being microwaved. Now she knows it’s me getting email I don’t want—or me finding out Dr. Phil has been preempted by breaking news.

And all those companies whose executives decide to comply with Canada’s new law and re-permission their files? Don’t you worry for a second that they’ll be decimating one of their best-performing business assets.

After all, it doesn’t cost you any of your money.

And it may save me from getting three unwanted emails a year. Then again, maybe not. Maybe it will save me from one unwanted email a year. But hey, any amount of money spent and/or lost by anyone other than you and me will be worth it if it’ll save us from even one unwanted email, right?

Or how about the companies that get sued because Canada’s anti-spam law includes a private right of action? Don’t worry about them, either.

If Canada’s anti-spam law stops just one spammer, any amount of collateral damage will be worth it.

Gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet, right? Oh wait. Stalin said that. Not a reference appropriate for how you undoubtedly feel right now.

How about this: Gotta shoot a bunch of household pets who occasionally crap on the floor in order to feel like we’re doing something about the wolf that in the last five or so years has largely been prevented from attacking our goats, right? There, that’s better.

Remember, it’s not what the law actually accomplishes. It’s how it makes you feel.

And right about now, I bet you’re positively giddy.

Finally you’ve got a weapon to aim at emailers who aren’t even close to the main senders of spam but they just annoy the heck out of you, right?

And if something annoys you then, by gum, it should be outlawed.

One thing, though: We have to get our stories straight.

When Canada’s anti-spam law proves to have done absolutely squiddly doo to stem the flow of worldwide spam we have to figure out what we’re going to say.

Oh yeah. Most spammers are outside of Canada’s jurisdiction. That’s what we’ll say.

Oh, and no one ever really thought Canada’s anti-spam law would put a real dent in the volume of spam sent worldwide.

We’ll say that, too.

So remind me: What is this law expected to actually accomplish that improves the email experience for consumers in any discernable way?

That’s what I thought.


Ken Magill


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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Ken Magill
Date: 2013-12-12 17:10:33
Subject: Hidden costs of spam

Respectfully: If anyone was getting bombarded by spam, I'd agree with your point. But they aren't. Anyone getting a bunch of email they don't want is in a situation of their own doing. CASL is all cost and no benefit. I do appreciate the feedback, though. Thanks Ken
Posted by: Anonymous Coward
Date: 2013-12-12 13:30:58
Subject: The hidden cost of spam

CASL might not directly impact consumers that much. But it will help good senders. Imagine two subscribers to your newsletter: One of whom gets bombarded with spam, and one of whom does not. Which one do you think will check their inbox more often? Which one do you think will have an easier time finding your newsletter? Which is more likely to click on an advertisement of one of your sponsors? Who loses when your subscribers get spammed? They do, you do, and your advertisers do. Who wins when someone who might have been thinking about spamming decides not to: Your subscribers win, you win, your advertisers win. Same goes for other legitimate senders. In other words deterring folks from spamming helps everybody. Some marketers are outright thrilled about CASL. I suspect they've already figured out how deterring spam works to a marketer's advantage.