Anyone who has an email address has been overwhelmed at least once by unsolicited email (also called junk mail or spam).
“Recently, I was out of town for five days. When I came home, I had close to 1,100 emails in my inbox. Ninety of those emails were from friends and people I do business with. The rest were spam,” says Hannah Martine. “And that’s a pretty typical volume of spam for me. So when David asked if I would be willing to get involved in the ‘No On Spam’ project, I immediately agreed.”
Hitting the delete button only solves part of the problem. Both from a consumer and an Internet Service Provider’s (ISPs) point of view, spam is very costly. Spam filters have to be set up, black and white lists have to be kept current, and customer complaints have to be managed. In addition, it takes a lot of CPU resources to receive and process the spam, and ISPs and online services indirectly pass these costs on to subscribers. According to a recent study, the volume of bounced or undeliverable messages generated by spam consumes an estimated $5 billion per year in I.T. resources.
So how do spammers obtain email addresses? One major way is that they hire highly trained, very competent programmers who write software that “harvests” email addresses from various sources. The email addresses are compiled into lists, and these are sold and resold to online marketers to provide them with potential clients. As a result, email inboxes get clogged up with hundreds of emails that almost no one wants or reads.
A new web service now provides consumers with information about who is selling their email addresses to spammers. The service, called No On Spam, can be accessed at the no-onspam.com website. Typing email address(es) into a form field will create a report from a massive spam database that shows 1) if the email address appears in the current database and 2) when and where the list that contains the email address was purchased.
“We’ve purchased mailing lists containing over three billion email addresses from various sources,” says Skinner “and we continue to purchase lists and add them to our database as we become aware of them. It’s possible that we have created the largest email address database in existence.”
A set of 12 authorization codes allowing 12 unique searches can be purchased for an introductory price of $19.97. A special bonus consisting of an initial search for up to three addresses is currently included. This special price plus bonus is available through July 31, 2006.
“People keep asking us why we put all this effort into creating the No On Spam program,” Skinner says. “Very simply, we feel that people have a right to know who is responsible for all the spam they receive.”
This service is the team’s first offering to the public although they've spent many years solving spam and mail list issues on an ISP server level. Other spam prevention products and services are currently under development.
David Skinner specializes in high-performance programming, databases, non-trivial website implementation, and real-time and embedded systems using assembly, C, JAVA, and PERL.
Hannah Martine is a marketing and advertising consultant, specializing in the creation and implementation of strategies and materials that bring more clients into small businesses.