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May 5, 2004

Dear Aunty Spam: Spam with No Unsubscribe Link - What to Do?

Posted 2 days, 4 hours ago on May 5, 2004

Dear Aunty Spam,

I am getting a LOT of spam that doesn't give you the option to unsubscribe. Is there anything I can do about it, with the new laws that are effective now?



Dear Kim,

Aunty is very sorry to hear that you are getting spam from people who are so rude as to not include an unsubscribe link, let alone a functioning one. It is so unmannered and impolite, that even though I like to think myself a gentle and moderate soul, it really gets my dander up. Why, it causes me to think that there should be even stricter laws against spam, ones where the penalty is "use a spam, get the chair"!

But that doesn't help you right now.

The law is indeed that there must be clear, functioning unsubscribe links in commercial email, especially mailing list mail. However, as we all know, if spam is outlawed, only outlaws will use spam. So what's a gentle reader such as yourself to do?


The first place to which you should complain is the Federal Trade Commission. They are the primary agency vested with enforcement of the new Federal CAN-SPAM anti-spam law. They want your spam. They love your spam. They have a refrigerator full of spam.

So forward your spam to And in case you haven't read all of Aunty's previous columns (and really, you should), let me remind you that address harvesting - the act of taking an email address from a web page such as, oh, say, this one, is illegal. But I'd sure like to see some spammer harvest the email address and send spam to because that would mean that when the spam went to the FTC could really nail them for harvesting the address and sending spam to
P.S. --->><<---harvest here

After sending your spam to the FTC, if you are feeling really motivated, you can read the fine print in the spam's header information to determine from where the spam really originated, and complain to the ISP who is hosting the spammer. That may get the spammer's Internet access turned off.

Next, you can contact your State Attorney General's office to find out with whom you can file a complaint at your state level, because CAN-SPAM allows State Attorney Generals to sue spammers who violate CAN-SPAM. In fact, your ISP can sue them too.

Finally, once you have done some or all of these things, delete the spam, and be grateful for small favours - such as the fact that the spam did not contain a bogus unsubscribe link, which when you clicked it, rather than unsubscribing you, alerted the spammer to the fact that they had a warm body at the other end of the line.

And for goodness sake, get a better spam filter!

Kissy kissy,

Aunty Spam

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