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Thursday, November 22, 2012, 14:53

The Definition of Spam

Category: General

Solution ID: 00000176


What is the actual definition of "spam"?


The word spam as applied to e-mail means Unsolicited Bulk Email ("UBE").

Unsolicited means that the Recipient has not granted verifiable permission for the message to be sent. Examples include: first contact inquiries, job inquiries, sales inquiries, etc.

Bulk means that the message is sent as part of a larger collection of messages, all having substantively identical content. Examples include: subscriber newsletters, customer communications, discussion lists, etc.

The technical definition states a message is spam only if it is both unsolicited and bulk.

Spam is an issue about consent, not content. Whether the UBE message is an advert, a scam, porn, a begging letter or an offer of a free lunch, the content is irrelevant; if the message was sent unsolicited and in bulk then the message is spam.

Spam is not a subset of UBE. It is not "UBE that is also a scam or that does not contain an unsubscribe link". All email sent unsolicited and in bulk is spam.

This distinction is important because legislators spend inordinate amounts of time attempting to regulate the content of spam messages, and in doing so come up against free speech issues.

Important facts relating to this definition:

  1. The sending of Unsolicited Bulk Email ("UBE") is banned by all legitimate Internet service providers worldwide.
  2. Real-time Block Lists are used by hundreds of millions of Internet users to reject emails identified as spam. These lists are based on the internationally accepted definition of spam as unsolicited bulk email. Therefore anyone sending UBE on the Internet, regardless of whether the content is commercial or not, illegal or not, needs to be fully aware that they will lose their Internet access if they send UBE and they will be placed on the Real-time Block Lists.
  3. All a spammer has to do is GET YOUR PERMISSION and they can spam you with impunity.

The last point above is currently a huge issue. All the spammers have to do is to get your e-mail address and permission, then they can spam you with impunity. At PerfectMail™ we call these spammers "industrial spammers" or "spamvertizers". They are by far the biggest problem we are now encountering.

While they technically gain impunity by skirting the law, at PerfectMail™ we expand our definition of spam to include messages where the sender attempts to hide who they are or where they are coming from.

Tags: spam, definition, antispam

See Also:

Link to this article: kb/definition_of_spam

Updated: Thursday, November 22, 2012, 14:53

-- David Rutherford


1. HcPcEgmp, Saturday, December 12, 2020, 14:06:



Last modified: 2012-11-22, 14:53

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